Sickle Cell Retinopathy

What is Sickle Cell Retinopathy?

Sickle cell retinopathy is present in some patients with sickle cell disease. In sickle cell retinopathy, blockage of blood vessels in the retina and choroid (pronounced CORE-oid) results in abnormal blood vessel growth and thinning of the retina.


Sickle cell disease is:

  • The most common inherited blood disorder
  • Most often found among people of African, Hispanic, and Caribbean descent
  • Caused by a mutation in the beta-globin gene, which decreases the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen.


Patients with retinal involvement of sickle cell disease often do not have any eye symptoms. However, when symptoms are present, patients describe:

  • Blind spots
  • Sudden onset of floaters or blurred vision
  • Flashes of light
  • Loss of side vision or curtains