Sickle Cell Disease: Vision Problems

Topic Overview

People who have sickle cell disease can sometimes have vision problems. Blood cells that change shape, or "sickle," can get trapped in blood vessels, blocking the blood flow. When this blockage occurs in the small blood vessels in the inner lining (retina) of the eyes, it can cause vision problems. This most often occurs in people who have hemoglobin SC disease, a type of sickle cell disease.

In the worst cases, the retina may come loose, leading to permanent blindness. This may happen suddenly, without any warning.

Early detection can help prevent these problems. Have your child's eyes checked during the newborn period and again at all routine well-child visits. footnote 1And get routine eye exams as an adult. Try to go to a doctor who specializes in eye problems (ophthalmologist).

Related Information

    References

    Citations

    1. American Academy of Pediatrics, et al. (2016). Policy statement: Visual system assessment in infants, children, and young adults by pediatricians. Pediatrics, 137(1): 28–30. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-3596. Accessed March 6, 2017.

    Credits

    Current as of: November 7, 2019

    Author: Healthwise Staff
    Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
    Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
    Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
    Martin Steinberg MD - Hematology