NY eye doctor Andreas Wolter, M.D. of Seeta Eye Centers in Poughkeepsie, Carmel and Yorktown asked, “What could a colonoscopy for colon cancer risk possibly have to do with your eyes?” As it turns out-plenty! The retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE) is a layer of the retina which can sometimes be thicker than normal at birth-or “hypertrophic.” Congenital Retinal Pigment Epithelial Hypertrophy (CHRPE) is usually found before patients reach 30 years of age and although they may enlarge with time they usually do not lead to malignancies like colon cancer.
“During regular eye exams when we find these areas of retinal pigmented epithelial hypertrophy typically they do not cause any vision problems or symptoms and are pretty unremarkable,” commented Dr. Wolter.
However, there is an association between people with Gardner's Syndrome-Familial Colonic Polyposes-or polyps of the colon, and CHRPE. If your eye doctor has told you that you have Congenital Retinal Pigment Epithelial Hypertrophy-perhaps called “Bear Tracks” or “Pigment Spots” or “Retina Freckles”, it is important to carefully explore and review your family history reasonable with a Gastroenterologist who will likely schedule you for a colonoscopy. A study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that patients with such “freckles” should be referred for colonoscopies. CHRPE has a “statistically significant” correlation with hereditary colon polyps known as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, or FAP. It may be that the freckles are caused by the same genetic mutation that produces the polyps.
Thus-when we are over 50 years of age, the reasons to have yearly eye exams includes not only detecting cataracts, glaucoma, age related macular degeneration (AMD) and other eye diseases, but regular eye examinations may very well be a reminder to be screened via colonoscopy to help detect early risks and potential indicators of colon cancer.
Patients who wish to learn more about Bear Tracks, Retina Freckles, Pigment Spots or CHRPE should feel free to call Seeta Eye Centers and schedule an eye examination by calling 845-454-1025 , visiting Seeta Eye Centers or facebook.com/seetaeyecenters.
Seeta Eye Centersis conveniently located at 23 Davis Avenue Poughkeepsie, New York 12524 and 664 Stoneleigh Avenue, Suite 100, Carmel, New York 10512.