Central serous retinopathy occurs when fluid builds up behind the retina in your eye. The fluid can cause your retina to detach, leading to vision problems. The condition is often associated with stress and corticosteroid use. Many cases resolve on their own, but you should seek medical attention to make sure vision problems aren’t permanent.
Central serous retinopathy is a medical condition that occurs when fluid builds up behind the retina in your eye. The fluid can cause your retina to detach, leading to vision problems or vision loss.
Your retina is a layer of tissue behind each eye. It senses light and translates it into images your brain can understand.
The condition is also called central serous chorioretinopathy.
Central serous retinopathy can affect anyone, but it’s more common in:
Central serous retinopathy occurs in about 6 to 10 people per 100,000, depending on assigned sex and other risk factors.
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Scientists don’t fully understand what causes central serous retinopathy. Stress appears to play a key role. Stress makes your body release a hormone called cortisol, which can cause inflammation (swelling) and fluid leakage. Studies have shown that people with high stress levels and poor coping skills are at higher risk for central serous retinopathy.
The condition is also associated with the use of medications containing corticosteroids, which treat inflammation. Corticosteroids come in several forms:
Other risk factors include:
Central serous retinopathy can affect one eye or both at the same time. Symptoms might include:
However, central serous chorioretinopathy doesn’t always cause symptoms. A person can have the condition but not have vision problems.
If you have changes to your vision, seek medical attention from your primary care provider or an ophthalmologist (eye specialist). They’ll talk to you about your symptoms and may order certain retina tests:
Many cases of central serous retinopathy go away on their own over a few weeks or months. So your healthcare provider may recommend monitoring, or “watch and wait.” During the monitoring period, they’ll repeat tests to ensure the fluid is draining.
Your healthcare provider also may ask you to stop taking medications that contribute to the eye condition. They’ll also counsel you to reduce stress.
If the fluid doesn’t drain on its own in a few months, your healthcare provider may recommend central serous retinopathy treatment:
It may not be possible to prevent central serous retinopathy. But you can reduce your risk by managing stress and limiting the use of corticosteroids.
Many cases of central serous retinopathy go away on their own as fluid naturally drains. But treatment may be necessary if the condition continues for several months.
After the condition resolves, vision generally improves on its own, often returning to normal. But sometimes damage can be permanent, with vision changes that don’t improve.
The condition can happen again, even after successful treatment, in the same eye or your other eye. For this reason, you may need regular follow-up appointments with an ophthalmologist.
Some lifestyle changes can help you prevent or improve central serous retinopathy:
If you’re experiencing vision loss, some coping strategies include:
If you experience any changes to your vision, talk to your primary care provider or an ophthalmologist.
Even though central serous retinopathy can go away on its own, it can get worse and cause permanent vision changes or loss. And sometimes vision problems are a sign of underlying disease.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Central serous retinopathy occurs when fluid builds up behind the retina in your eye. If you have any vision changes or loss, talk to your primary care provider or an ophthalmologist. Early intervention can help ensure that vision problems don’t become permanent.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/24/2022.
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