What is Pigment Dispersion Syndrome?
Pigment Dispersion Syndrome is a genetic condition which is usually found in Caucasian men between the ages of 20 and 50. This syndrome is usually asymptomatic but can have severe complications.
Signs of Pigment Dispersion Syndrome
While there are often very few symptoms associated with Pigment Dispersion Syndrome, there are many signs which your optometrist can find in an exam. Most of these signs are related to the pigment, or colored tissue, coming off the back of the iris and depositing on other structures in the eye.
An optometrist may note that there is pigment on the cornea – called a Kruckenberg spindle – through normal evaluation of the health of the eyes.
If there is reason to suspect Pigment Dispersion Syndrome, the optometrist may elect to perform a procedure known as gonioscopy. Gonioscopy allows an eye doctor to see structures in the front portion of the eye which are not visible with a special instrument.
Through gonioscopy, several other signs may be noted, including bowing of the iris, deposition of pigment on the trabecular meshwork, pigment on Schwalbe’s line, and pigment on the lens zonules. None of these signs are harmful to the eyes initially.
Risks with Pigment Dispersion Syndrome
There are several risks that are associated with Pigment Dispersion Syndrome. Iris atrophy, lattice degeneration of the retina, and most notably, closed angle glaucoma are all complications of pigment dispersion syndrome.
Iris atrophy, or developing holes in the iris, is a common complication of pigment dispersion syndrome. As the pigment comes off the back of the iris, the iris thins and may even develop holes. These are not visible without specific techniques in an eye exam. If the iris atrophy progresses, a patient may become very light sensitive and have color changes in their eyes.
Lattice Degeneration of the Retina
Lattice degeneration in the retina is a finding that is associated with pigment dispersion syndrome. This finding is on the back of the eye, in the periphery of the retina. The lattice degeneration is a section of the retina which has thinned and developed holes. Normally, lattice degeneration does not affect vision, but it does greatly increase the risk of a retinal detachment.
Pigmentary glaucoma is sometimes called pigmentary glaucoma when associated with pigment dispersion syndrome. This form of glaucoma occurs due to a buildup of pigment and debris in the trabecular meshwork. The trabecular meshwork is a major drainage passage for the fluid out of the eye and when it is clogged, it can cause an increase in eye pressure.
If the eye pressure is increased for a long period of time, glaucoma can develop. Glaucoma is a sight threatening condition that does not have a cure but is manageable by an eye doctor.
Management of Pigment Dispersion Syndrome
In many cases, pigment dispersion syndrome does not need to be treated with any medication and only requires annual monitoring at your comprehensive eye exam. However, when certain risk factors are present treatment may be needed. If glaucoma is present, medications and surgery to lower the eye pressure may be used. Your optometrist may also choose to monitor more frequently than every year due to an increased risk of vision issues.
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