Pigment dispersion syndrome

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Pigment dispersion syndrome (PDS) is an affliction of the eye that can lead to a form of glaucoma known as pigmentary glaucoma. It takes place when pigment cells slough off from the back of the iris and float around in the aqueous humor. Over time, these pigment cells can accumulate in the anterior chamber in such a way that it can begin to clog the trabecular meshwork (the major site of aqueous humour drainage), which can in turn prevent the aqueous humour from draining and therefore increases the pressure inside the eye. With PDS, the intra ocular pressure tends to spike at times and then can return to normal. Exercise has been shown to contribute to spikes in pressure as well. When the pressure is great enough to cause damage to the optic nerve, this is called pigmentary glaucoma. As with all types of glaucoma, when damage happens to the optic nerve fibers, the vision loss that occurs is irreversible and painless.

This condition is rare, but occurs most often in Caucasians, particularly men, and the age of onset is relatively low: mid 20s to 40s. For some reason, after 40 years of age, the syndrome lessens and stops. Most sufferers are nearsighted.

There is no cure yet, but pigmentary glaucoma can be managed with eye drops or treated with simple surgeries. One of the surgeries is the YAG laser procedure in which a laser is used to break up the pigment clogs, and reduce pressure. If caught early and treated, chances of glaucoma are greatly reduced. Sufferers are often advised not to engage in high-impact sports such as long-distance running or martial arts, as strong impacts can cause more pigment cells to slough off.

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