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What is Neuroretinitis?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Neuroretinitis is a disease that affects the outer retina and the retinal pigment epithelium. In most cases, neuroretinitis only affects one eye, though some people suffer damage in both eyes. Symptoms of this disease include loss of vision, optic disc inflammation and leakage, and retinal lesions. The precise cause of this disease is unknown, though some speculate that toxic excrement from different types of worms play a large part in causing this disease.

This disease is a progressive one that slowly damages the eye. The early stage of the disease has certain telltale signs associated with it. Slight visual loss, eye pain, small clots referred to as "floaters," and an infected eye area are all part of the early stage. The late stage of neuroretinitis usually involves total loss of vision.

Neuroretinitis cannot always be detected by the naked eye. In some cases, an eye exam is the only way to uncover the symptoms of this disease. A full eye exam must be performed before neuroretinitis can be confirmed. Any person suffering from eye pain or loss of vision should visit with an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.

In Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southeastern United States, one species of worm has been identified as being the main cause of this ocular disease. This larval worm known as Ancylostoma canium frequently causes eye irritation and infection. In the north midwestern portion of the United States, a different kind of worm known as Baylisascaris procyonis is thought to be linked to neuroretinitis.

Laser photocoagulation of the nematode is often the treatment that most medical experts prescribe. This form of laser surgery effectively eliminates any worms that remain inside of the eye area. In most cases, the disease does not continue to progress once worms are destroyed. In other cases, a patient's vision is restored, though this only occurs if the disease is detected early enough.

Another treatment option includes surgical invasion in the form of transvitreal removal of the nematode. As with laser surgery, this treatment must be given to a patient as soon as possible. In many instances, patients that undergo invasive surgery retain eyesight. As with most other eye diseases, the best way to combat this disease is to ensure early detection. This is precisely why all people should have an annual eye examination. While little is known about neuroretinitis, medical experts are confident that this disease can be stopped in its tracks through proper treatment measures.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1002503 — On Dec 07, 2019

Neuroretinitis is can be caused by Bartonella infection, Borrelia infection or CMV infection. if not treated can cause retina damages and loss of the eyesight or blindness.

By mantra — On Jul 13, 2011

Another disease associated with neuroretinitis is cat scratch disease, or cat scratch fever. The nick name comes from an association between bacteria in a cat’s saliva and the infection it can cause in a human. It is also believed by some to be caused because some people think cats are very filthy animals.

I don’t know how the worms fit in with this for sure. Maybe because a cat is often times an outside animal and can come in to contact with the offending worm excrement.

I am a cat person and have never had any illness or infection that was caused by my cats. The worst thing they have brought around is fleas. I will take that over neuroretinitis any time.

By andromeda — On Jul 13, 2011

The neuroretinitis symptoms sound pretty bad. I would definitely head straight to an eye doctor if I had any of these symptoms. I had an inflammation in my inner eye several years ago, and that was bad enough. I can not imagine having this kind of affliction! This is definitely a good reminder to wash your hands any time you need to touch your eye.

By SalmonRiver — On Jul 12, 2011

This is something straight out of a nightmare for me! We were discussing parasites in one of my medical classes last semester. If I had known about this one, I probably would have written my paper on this instead of the parasite I chose.

I know, I said it was nightmare material, but any parasite is! I never heard of getting worms in your eye, so from a medical stand point, this is quite interesting. With the toxic excrement of certain worms possibly being to blame, is cross contamination one of the probable neuroretinitis causes?

I don’t know the scientific name for the worms mentioned. But, I did look up the classification for an earthworm, so I am relieved to know that is not one of them!

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