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June, 2009


Cracked View

Angioid streaks in the retina

Pseudoxanthoma Elasticum.

These images show the eyes of a patient who has pseudoxanthoma elasticum, a rare genetic disorder that affects the elastic fibers of connective tissue, which form the framework for the body's cells. When people have this condition, their elastic tissues harden from the buildup of calcium and other minerals. Many parts of the body can be affected, including the skin, blood vessels and eyes.

As seen through the patient's pupil, the orange-colored retinal tissue and red blood vessels line the inside of the eye. The blood vessels enter the eye through the circle-shaped optic discs.

The dark gray lines radiating from the optic disc are angioid streaks, or cracks in the tissue beneath the retina. Angioid streaks can increase a person's risk of developing new blood vessels in the layer below the retina. These new vessels can bleed and cause vision loss.

Fluid in the retina can ultimately lead to scar tissue, as shown by the white bands, or thinning of the retina, as shown by the bright yellow areas.

Image courtesy of NEI staff clinician Catherine Meyerle, M.D., and NEI ophthalmic imaging specialist Michael Bono, B.A., C.R.A., C.O.T.

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Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health