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Sickle Cell Disease in the Eyes

Sickle cell vs normal blood cellThis was a case from yesterday.  This patient is a long-time friend of the practice, a really nice gentleman who we have gotten to know over the years of providing care here in Lawton.

Sickle Cell Anemia is a life threatening inherited disease.  On two different cases now, my patients were completely unaware that they had the disease until we found the retinal problems associated with Sickle Cell.

Sickle Cell is a serious disorder where the body makes sickle (or crescent) shaped blood cells.  These irregular blood cells block the normal flow of blood through the vessels causing pain and/or organ damage.

These sickle shaped cells can not carry oxygen and nutrients that the organ systems need for normal function. They also die after 10-20 days versus normal red blood cells which live around 120 days.  So, the body has a difficult time making new cells fast enough to keep up with the demand.

The symptoms of Sickle Cell Anemia are:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Coldness in the hands and feet

  • Paler than normal skin or mucous membranes (the tissue that lines your nose, mouth, and other organs and body cavities)

  • Jaundice (a yellowish color of the skin or whites of the eyes)

Sudden pain throughout the body is sign of Sickle Cell Crisis.  These patients need immediate attention.  Without help, death can occur.

Sickle Cell disease in the eyes typically has retinal vascular changes that your eye doctor should be able to view with dilation or wide field imaging. Eyes will turn "bloodshot" due to the enlarged veins in the eyes and clots that would occur. Circulation is poor with Sickle Cell, and pressure can easily build in the vasular system.

By keeping yearly eye exams with your eye doctor, early diagnosis is possible.  Early diagnosis is key in maintaining good health. Your eye doctor is able to closely monitor these symptoms found in the eye with Sickle Cell Disease, and protect your overall health.

Dr. Howard Ross is experienced in Sickle Cell Anemia and is able to keep you and your family safe and healthy. Early detection is key for your overall health and vision, so schedule an appointment today to see Dr. Howard Ross at our Downtown location in Lawton, OK, across from the mall. We take your medical and vision insurance.