Pigment Dispersion Syndrome (PDS) is a genetic eye disease characterized by the dispersion of pigment particles from the iris back to other areas of the eye. It is typically detected in males, with a higher prevalence in Caucasian men between the ages of 20 and 50. PDS is asymptomatic in most patients. Still, it can lead to significant complications, including iris atrophy, lattice degeneration of the retina, and, most commonly, glaucoma. An optometrist can identify PDS by evaluating various diagnostic components, including examining the cornea, conducting a gonioscopy to assess the drainage system, and examining the retina.
How Pigment Dispersion Syndrome is Diagnosed
When examining for PDS, an optometrist can identify pigment dispersion in the cornea, causing a Kruckenberg spindle. An optometrist may also check the iris for bowing, pigment accumulation on the trabecular meshwork, and pigment accumulation on the Schwalbe’s line and lens zonules. Initially, the signs of PDS are not harmful to the eyes, but over time can lead to long-term health concerns.
Complications of PDS
Iris atrophy is one of the most common complications. Weakening of the iris by pigment dispersion can cause holes in the iris to develop, with patients possibly becoming sensitive to light and experiencing color changes. Meanwhile, lattice degeneration of the retina, a visual impairment caused by decreased retinal thickness and holes, can significantly increase the chances of a retinal detachment happening.
In contrast, pigmentary glaucoma is a severe form of glaucoma that can result from the buildup of debris and pigment in the trabecular meshwork, causing a blockage that increases eye pressure. Though the disease is usually asymptomatic in its early stages, people with pigmentary glaucoma may experience rapid eye pain, blurred vision, and vision loss, which can lead to permanent vision damage and even blindness.
Routine Eye Health Checks
PDS poses particular risks, which necessitates the need for eye exams from an optometrist at least once a year. Upon examination, the optometrist can determine when a patient should undergo additional monitoring to minimize the risk of potential vision problems.
If a patient is diagnosed with PDS, the optometrist may closely monitor the patient for an increased risk of vision problems. If there is a high risk of developing complications such as closed-angle glaucoma, an optometrist may recommend eye medication to manage eye pressure, minimize the build-up of debris, and reduce symptoms associated with vision loss. When medication does not work, surgery may be necessary to lower eye pressure.
Moreover, genetic information from DNA testing has shown potential protection against specific eye diseases, including PDS. Genetic testing can reveal whether an individual carries the characteristics for developing PDS, enabling early treatment or deciding to alter one’s lifestyle to prevent disease development.
Living with Pigment Dispersion Syndrome
Living with PDS means taking extra precautions to ensure the highest quality of vision. For those experiencing symptoms associated with PDS, scheduling an optometrist appointment is imperative. Meanwhile, seeking genetic testing offers an opportunity for early prevention, detection, and minimization of the potential vision damage caused by these genetic traits. A yearly eye evaluation with an optometrist will help maintain eye health.