ZocdocAnswersWhat causes pigmentation of one's subretina?

Question

What causes pigmentation of one's subretina?

My opthamologist said on my last visit that he could see some pigmentation on my subretina, and he was kind of ambiguous about what this meant. What causes this kind of pigment to appear? Is it dangerous?

Answer

The retinal pigment epithelium is a layer of cells that sits underneath of the light-sensing part of the retina at the back of the eye. It can be indirectly observed through the retina because the pigment shows through. The retinal pigment epithelium is normally darkly pigmented and functions to absorb light and keep it from bouncing around the back of the eye. There are a few disorders of the retinal pigment epithelium that can occur. Early signs of these might be observable in the back of the eye by your eye doctor. The first of these is retinitis pigmentosa, a degeneration of the pigment cells that results in night blindness and loss of peripheral vision. The second of these is age related macular degeneration, which results in loss of central vision. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with you eye doctor to discuss any concerns might be recommended.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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