Retinoschisis is an eye condition in which the sensitive layer of the retina splits gradually into different layers, affecting the retinal photosensitive cells in the macula (cones and rods). It results in loss of vision in the corresponding visual field. Retinoschisis is a form of genetically acquired macular degeneration. Beginning at childhood, it affects the vision of men who inherited the disease from their mothers. Thus, the technical name of this eye disease is X-linked juvenile retinoschisis. It is estimated that it affects one in 5,000 to 25,000 individuals, primarily young males. Schisis is derived from the Greek word meaning splitting, describing the splitting of the retinal layers from each other.
Not only can the central vision be impaired, there is also acuity loss in retinoschisis, which is caused by the formation of tiny cysts in the retina. These cysts often form a spoke-wheel pattern which is frequently very subtle and is usually detected only by a trained clinician. Since the nerve tissue is damaged by these cysts, the visual acuity cannot be improved with glasses.
Senile retinoschisis is the splitting of the retina as a result of aging. It can affect men and women. This is not a genetic condition.