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Retinoschisis is a genetic eye disease that splits the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells lining the back of the eye.  It occurs in two forms:  one affecting young children, the other affecting older adults.  Both forms usually affect both eyes, though one eye may be worse than the other.


In childhood retinoschisis, the splitting often affects the macula, the area of the retina responsible for central vision.  If the split retina is in this location, central vision often decreases.  Because the disease is inherited on the X chromosome, childhood retinoschisis occurs in boys more than girls.  It is usually detected because of poor vision.


In the form that affects older adults, the split retina involves the peripheral (side) retina.  Vision may not be affected at all or, in some cases, some peripheral vision may be lost.  Retinal detachment is another risk associated with retinoschisis in this form.  Peripheral retinoschisis is more common in adults and is usually caused by aging.  In this case, it usually does not affect vision, but it can cause a retinal detachment.  If detected early, a retinal detachment can be treated with surgery or laser therapy.


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.


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