The retina is the light-sensitive tissue that lines the back of your child's eyes. It's made up of ten different layers. Juvenile retinoschisis is a genetic eye condition that causes these layers to separate, resulting in vision loss and other eye complications. Here are three things parents need to know about juvenile retinoschisis.
What are the signs of juvenile retinoschisis?
Children with juvenile retinoschisis may complain of poor vision. The degree of vision loss varies based on the severity of the splitting as well as the presence of complications. If the splitting leads to retinal detachment or a vitreous hemorrhage (bleeding into the fluid that fills the eye), serious vision loss can occur.
Strabismus (cross eyes) and nystagmus (involuntary eye movements) are also signs of this eye disorder. If you notice these changes in your child's eyes, or if they tell you that their vision is changing, take them to an optometrist right away.
What causes juvenile retinoschisis?
Juvenile retinoschisis is caused by mutations in the RS1 gene. More than 220 different mutations in this gene have been linked to juvenile retinoschisis. Both males and females can have these mutated genes, but only males develop vision disorders as a result. This is because the RS1 gene is part of the X chromosome, and as you probably know, males only have one X chromosome while females have two.
The RS1 gene is responsible for telling the body to make retinoschisin, a type of protein that's found in the retina. This protein binds to the photoreceptor cells, the cells that are responsible for detecting color and light. Scientists think that retinoschisin helps to attach the retina's cells together while also developing and maintaining the retina. It's a very important gene!
How do optometrists treat juvenile retinoschisis?
There's no cure for juvenile retinoschisis, but medications like topical dorzolamide—a glaucoma drug—can keep the retina from splitting any further and protect your child's vision. Researchers are also currently studying gene therapy, so this treatment may be available for your child in the future.
If complications like vitreous hemorrhage or retinal detachment occur, they can be treated with surgery. In the former case, the vitreous will be removed and replaced with saline, while in the latter case, the retina will be re-attached and then held in place with a bubble or gas or oil.
If you think your child has juvenile retinoschisis, take them to an optometrist clinic like Kennedy Eye Clinic.