By | June 8, 2022

Doctors understand the term retinitis to mean inflammation of the retina. Triggered by various factors, it can eventually lead to complete loss of vision.

What is retinitis?

Retinitis is inflammation of the retina, often caused by infection. The course of the disease can be characterized by harmless symptoms, but can also lead to complete blindness. For what does lse stand for, please visit


Retinitis is most often caused by inflammation spreading to the retina. The damaged retina progressively degenerates as the fine tissue gradually regresses. This inflammation is often triggered by an infection.

A herpes simplex virus can be detected in the secretion of the tear fluid. It can manifest itself in the retina and cause local foci of inflammation that quickly lead to blindness. Herpes simplex retinitis is often seen following HSV infection, but can occur months or years later.

Lyme disease caused by a tick bite is also suspected. The causes for the emergence are manifold. Genetic factors or massive mechanical influences also play a role

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The body reacts to inflammation with certain stimuli. He thus recognizes the harmful foreign substances and shows symptoms of inflammation such as tissue swelling, reddening or development of heat up to fever. Numerous defense processes interlock. The swelling of the tissue is caused by an increased fluid content, which is intended to flush out harmful pathogens from the body.

In the case of retinitis, the reddening of the retina leads to increased blood flow and at the same time better supply to the tissue. The generation of heat during inflammation is an enormous feat for the organism, with various metabolic processes also causing damage to the tissue. Normally, the body repairs these after the acute phase.

If the repair of retinitis is successful, the inflammation subsides without impairment. The retina can recover and the affected eye is fully operational again. However, if the process does not respond normally, permanent damage can sometimes be expected.

Diagnosis & course of disease

As soon as a suspected diagnosis has been established, the exact course of the disease is often unclear in the case of retinitis. To do this, the respective triggers of the disease must first be determined. Furthermore, retinitis is divided into subgroups with different specifications or classifications.

There is central retinitis, which mainly affects the middle part of the retina. Thus, not the entire surface of the eye is affected here, but only the center of the retina. This area contains a large number of photoreceptor cells that are responsible for focusing the optical image.

A severe course of retinitis centralis is therefore usually associated with permanent damage and the loss of vision for the middle field of vision in the affected eye. Retinitis with bleeding is known as haemorrhagic retinitis. Septic retinitis can result from sepsis (blood poisoning). arise and retinitis syphilitica is the result of syphilis.

Inflammation of the choroid (chlorioretinitis) is often observed in connection with exudative retinitis. Typical symptoms are pronounced water retention in the tissue (edema) and occasionally bleeding. Subsequently, conditional retinal detachments appear, which immediately lead to defects in the central area of ​​the retina.

Retinitis can also trigger the development of Harada syndrome. Meningoencephalitis (inflammation of the meninges and the brain) is also present here. The symptoms show up in the typical balance disorders, hearing problems, pigment loss and hair loss. Almost every tenth person affected does not survive the constellation of retinitis with meningoencephalitis.

Numerous examination methods are available to determine retinitis with its multiple manifestations. First and foremost, the eye is examined using a slit lamp for the front, middle and rear of the eye. To display the back of the eye, reflection is carried out with the help of an ophthalmoscope. The spectrum of diagnostic procedures ranges from measuring the intraocular pressure and corneal topography to determining the resolving power of the retina using a retinometer.


Retinitis is a symptom of various diseases. The possible complications therefore depend on the underlying disease. Retinitis is often even asymptomatic. In severe cases, however, it can lead to blindness. The underlying diseases can be both hereditary and acquired.

Acquired forms of retinitis are often triggered by infections or autoimmune diseases. Certain forms of retinitis can cause lots of small hemorrhages in the retina. Diabetics in particular have a greater risk of developing retinitis haemorrhagica (retinal bleeding). Choroidal inflammation often occurs in connection with retinitis, which is characterized by water retention in the tissue, small hemorrhages in the retina and retinal detachment.

Retinitis also develops as part of the so-called Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome. This is a disease that is directed against the body’s own melanocytes due to an autoimmune reaction. This form of retinitis is associated with meningitis, pigmentation disorders, hair loss, and increased sensitivity to high-pitched sounds. The Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome leads to death in ten percent of the cases.

Sometimes, with the various forms of retinitis, vision can be severely impaired even after the inflammation has healed. This is especially the case when scarring has formed on the cornea. These can lead to ulcers and small tears, which then form the basis for severe vision problems.

When should you go to the doctor?

Since retinitis does not heal on its own, this disease must be examined and treated by a doctor in any case. Further complications can only be avoided by a medical examination. A doctor should be consulted for retinitis if the affected person suffers from significant swelling in the eye area. If the swelling does not go away on its own, you should always see a doctor. This can also disrupt the patient’s field of vision. Since this disease is an inflammatory disease, it can also be accompanied by fever.

Usually, retinitis is treated by an ophthalmologist. There are no special complications and the course of the disease is usually positive. The patient’s life expectancy is also not reduced by the disease. However, in the worst case, the affected person can lose their sight completely if the retinitis is not treated.

Treatment & Therapy

In preparation for the treatment and therapy, the specialist will determine possible risk factors in an intensive anamnesis interview. Information about current diseases, infectious processes or genetic diseases within the family is urgently required for the further course of treatment. Depending on the causative disease, individual therapy is carried out.

If the retinitis is caused by bacteria, antibiotics are used. This is the case, for example, when inflammation of the choroid (chorioretinitis) is involved. Eye drops containing antibiotics are usually administered here. Antivirals help with a viral infection.

In rare cases, scars form on the cornea of ​​the eye after the inflammation has subsided. Ulcers or small tears in the cornea form, which are hardly noticeable at first, but later cause enormous visual problems. An amniotic membrane (tissue harvested from the placenta) is surgically sewn onto the affected area.

This acts as an anti-inflammatory protective layer and at the same time supports the healing of the eye through certain wound-healing substances. The intervention, which lasts only a few minutes, is performed under local anesthetic. As soon as the signs of tearing under the protective membrane have healed, the amniotic membrane is removed again.


Retinitis often occurs at a late stage as a result of infectious diseases or other health problems. Therefore, prevention of retinal inflammation is not possible. However, the immune system can be strengthened to fight off viruses and bacteria.

General measures include a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, sporting activities, spending time outdoors and adequate rest periods. However, if there are any abnormalities in the eye with pain and redness, medical advice should be sought as soon as possible. Irrespective of this, regular check-ups at the ophthalmologist protect against nasty surprises.


The primary goal of aftercare for retinitis is to preserve sight. Progressive detachment of the retina and rapid destruction of the photoreceptor cells are to be slowed down, as they would lead to blindness in the long term. About half of the patients also develop a clouding of the lens (cataract) during the course of the disease. Here, too, preventive measures can be taken in the course of aftercare.

The disease is hereditary, and there is currently no cure. If the diagnosis is made when the person concerned is young, the treatment options are even greater than at a later point in time. During follow-up treatment, the ophthalmologist must consider the current condition of the patient.

Some of those affected are almost symptom-free. Other sufferers, in whom the retinitis is already far advanced, are already severely restricted in their ability to see. At this stage, both the rods and the cones of the retina are affected. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the patients are treated during follow-up care.

If the symptoms of retinitis cause a lot of emotional stress for the patient, psychotherapeutic care is also recommended. Possibilities are developed as to how the person concerned can cope with everyday life more easily despite the visual impairment. The development of depression is also treated preventively during the therapy sessions.

You can do that yourself

Retinitis cannot be treated causally so far. The only effective therapy is to slow the progression of the disease and relieve the symptoms.

Those affected can improve their quality of life by keeping in close contact with the ophthalmologist and having their special glasses adjusted regularly. Special edge filter lenses with UV protection provide additional protection for the eyes. In addition, orientation and mobility training can be taken advantage of. In this context, those affected learn how to move and orientate themselves with impaired vision. Individual complications such as cataracts or cell disorders of the macula lutea must be treated individually.

In everyday life, those affected should also pay attention to sufficient rest and relaxation. Retinitis is a major psychological burden that can significantly reduce quality of life. It is all the more important to compensate for this loss with a fulfilling life. Those affected have to take advantage of the regular follow-up checks by the doctor and also get in touch with various specialists, since new treatment options for retinitis pigmentosa are constantly being developed, which could be suitable for patients with the necessary basic requirements.