Lattice degeneration is a condition that causes thinning and weakening of the peripheral retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells lining the back of the eye, which can lead to a retinal tear.
The vitreous is a clear, gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye. As we age, the vitreous (the clear, gel-like substance that fills the inside of the eye) tends to shrink slightly. When the vitreous shrinks, it can pull on the retina and cause a tear. In lattice degeneration, holes or tears may form more easily in the areas of lattice, which are the thinned and weakened parts of the retina. A torn retina is a serious problem. It can lead to a retinal detachment and blindness. Fluid can pass through the tear or hole and then lift the retina off of the back of the eye like wallpaper peeling off a wall. Laser surgery or cryotherapy (freezing) is often used to seal retinal tears and prevent detachment.
Fortunately, most people with lattice degeneration do not develop a retinal detachment. Your eye doctor often will need to monitor your condition closely. If you have a history of lattice degeneration, you should be aware of the symptoms of retinal tears and detachment. If new floaters appear suddenly or you see sudden flashes of light or you see shadows in your vision or your vision changes, see an eye doctor immediately.