The material that gives your iris its color is pigment. When the pigment rubs off the back of your iris, it causes pigment dispersion syndrome (PDS). This pigment then floats around the eye, causing it to become discolored. Pigment specks can clog the drainage angle in your eye, which can result in eye pressure issues.
By producing a fluid called aqueous humor, your eye maintains a healthy pressure. The amount of aqueous that flows through your eye should be equal to the amount that flows out. If there isn’t enough fluid leaving the eye, the pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure, or IOP) builds up over time, potentially damaging the optic nerve. Glaucoma is the medical term for this condition.
Pigmentary glaucoma is the term used when PDS has advanced to this level. However, pigmentary glaucoma is not necessarily the result of pigment dispersion syndrome.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Many individuals who suffer from pigment dispersion syndrome (PDS) generally have no symptoms. Some people may experience blurred vision or see halos after exercising.
As the optic nerve becomes more impaired over time, blank spots can appear in your field of vision. Unless the optic nerve is severely damaged and the blank spots become big, you are unlikely to notice them in your daily activities. Blindness occurs when all of the optic nerve fibers die.
Diagnosis of Pigment Dispersion Syndrome
Pigment dispersion syndrome (PDS) is commonly diagnosed during a routine eye exam since it often has no signs. That is why seeing an ophthalmologist for an eye exam is so critical.
Your ophthalmologist will do the following during a comprehensive eye exam:
● Examine the ocular pressure
● If PDS is suspected, additional tests will be performed, such as a gonioscopy. This allows your ophthalmologist to examine the drainage angle of your eye. He or she should check to see if anything is preventing the fluid from draining from the eye.
These tests will decide whether you have pigmentary glaucoma and are similar to those used for glaucoma diagnosis. Your ophthalmologist will look for signs of pigment floating in the eye (including at the back of the cornea) or tiny parts of the iris that lack pigment.
Pigment Dispersion Syndrome (PDS) Treatment
The following treatments are available for pigment dispersion syndrome, depending on how it affects your intraocular pressure (IOP):
● For patients with normal or slightly elevated IOP, there is a low risk of optic nerve injury. Other than seeing your ophthalmologist once a year, no medication is needed. Your ophthalmologist will check your IOP to watch for any improvements in your vision and keep an eye on your condition.
● For patients with elevated IOP, there is a higher risk of optic nerve injury. Medicated eye drops or laser therapy can be used to lower the IOP.
● When the IOP becomes extremely high that it affects the optic nerve, pigmentary glaucoma occurs. Treatment is needed in this situation, which may include medicated eye drops, laser therapy, or surgery.