Sickle cell disease is a blood disorder caused by an inherited genetic mutation. People with sickle cell develop crescent-shaped red blood cells, resembling a scythe or sickle, when there is reduced oxygen levels. These sickled red blood cells become stiff and do not flow easily through small blood vessels. When the sickle cells block blood flow through the body, extreme pain occurs, due to tissues not receiving enough blood.
Sickle cell can affect many organs in the body, including the eyes. Eye symptoms may include:
- Subconjunctival Hemmorrhage
- Atrophy of the iris
- New blood vessel growth of iris
- Snake-like shaped blood vessels
- Retinal hemmorrhage or detachment
- Pigmentation around the outer edge of the retina
- Angioid Streaks in the retina
- Salmon patch in the retina
- Glistening deposits in the retina
- Retinal blood vessel occlusion
It is important to be aware of these symptoms, as sickle cells can block tiny blood vessels that supply your eyes. Over time, this can damage the portion of the eye that processes visual images (retina) and lead to blindness.