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Central Serous Retinopathy: Stages, Symptoms & Treatment

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Central serous retinopathy, sometimes known as central serous choroidopathy (CSC), is a degenerative eye condition in which fluid builds up under the retina, leading to potential vision problems and blindness. This condition is most common in middle-aged adults, and women especially are more susceptible to developing the condition.

Symptoms include blurry vision, dark spots and objects appearing to be farther away than they are.

Although jarring and anxiety-inducing upon onset, the condition does not usually require treatment and most often abates on its own over the course of two to eight weeks.

If an eye doctor does recommend treatment, the regimen involves minor laser surgery to stop fluid from leaking into the retina. This leakage is what disrupts normal vision.

woman rubbing eyes

What Is Central Serous Retinopathy?

Many people experience blurry vision for a variety of reasons, from dry eyes to nearsightedness with astigmatism to a more serious issue, like central serous retinopathy. This condition is also called central serous choroidopathy (CSC).

You might not notice symptoms for a long time, or you might attribute the symptoms to something else. Diagnosis is important. Central serous retinopathy requires treatment to slow the condition’s progress, or you could lose your central vision.

Central vision is the most important part of your vision. This is the area you focus on, allowing you to directly see objects and colors.

Central vision involves the retina, which is a lining of photoreceptive cells at the back of your eye. The central part of the retina is the macula, possibly the most sensitive part of the eye. This area transmits signals from light through the optic nerve to your brain, where these signals are interpreted as your surroundings.

If you lose central vision, you will have a lot of trouble navigating the world. Most people who develop central serous retinopathy have a slow progression through central vision loss, although it is possible to lose your vision suddenly due to this disease.

Unlike other chronic vision problems, you can recover your sight with appropriate treatment. Your vision may not be as clear as it was before, but you will largely maintain sight.

What Causes Central Serous Choroidopathy?

Doctors and researchers don’t know how this condition is triggered. They have identified, however, certain risk factors associated with the condition. They include:

  • Stress
  • Medication
  • Age


Stress and anxiety are among the top causes for central serous retinopathy. When you’re stressed or anxious, the body produces cortisol, a hormone that can cause inflammation and leaks.


Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed drugs in the treatment and management of various conditions including rheumatic diseases and lupus. These anti-inflammatories include cortisone and prednisone, which can contribute to dry eyes and induce central serous retinopathy. Corticosteroids can also be found in sprays, skin creams and also be prescribed to treat various conditions.


This condition is more prevalent in middle-aged people between 30 and 50. As mentioned above, women are more likely to develop the condition. Regular screening with your eye specialist can help detect the condition early on.

What Are the Symptoms of Central Serous Retinopathy?

Central serous retinopathy causes the fluid beneath the retina to build up. Consequently, that leads to swelling and muscular edemas that can damage the blood vessels beneath the retina.

In most cases, blurry central vision symptoms occur in one eye. However, while only one eye looks affected, both eyes degenerate after a while. Some of the identifiable symptoms of this condition include:

  • Blurry vision, which comes and goes in about a couple of weeks
  • Dark spots in the central bit of your vision
  • You see objects appear further than they are
  • White shades may seem dull
  • A dark spot in the middle of your eye
  • Lines that appear crooked

How Does Central Serous Retinopathy Progress

eye doctor examining woman's eye

Until you lose your central vision, you may not realize you’re suffering from an eye condition. Your central vision is affected when the macula swells. If other parts of the retina are involved, you may also develop blurry vision, have trouble focusing, and being in dimly lit rooms.

Unlike most chronic vision problems, central serous retinopathy usually clears up on its own. If it doesn’t clear, or if it recurs, it develops in stages that include:

  • Developing blurred vision
  • Failing to focus on objects
  • Losing your central vision
  • Developing a dark spot in the middle of your vision

At this point, the physical effects and discomfort will lead you to seek professional intervention. An ophthalmologist may take anywhere from a few weeks to a month to diagnose the condition. However, the condition can clear up on its own.

How Is Central Serous Retinopathy Diagnosed?

In the late developmental stages, a small detachment of the muscular is visible. If the blister from the fluid forms away from the center of the macula, you may not experience any symptoms. A professional clinician or eye specialist can detect signs of retinal detachments from the past.

Some of the tests and procedures used to diagnose the condition include ocular coherence tomography and fluorescein angiography. Fluorescein angiography is a test that uses a dye called fluorescein to view different layers of the eye.

An ocular coherence tomography is a straightforward test that uses light waves to make a cross-section of your eye. This helps the ophthalmologist measure the thickness of the layers to determine the swelling parts.

Is Central Serous Retinopathy Treatable?

Although central serous retinopathy usually clears up on its own over a period of weeks, treatments do exist. Most of them involve photodynamic therapies, thermal laser treatments and prescriptions like verteporfin.

If you have another episode close to the first one, doctors may recommend anti-androgenic drugs, melatonin, and antibiotics like rifampin.

To reduce your chances of developing central serous retinopathy, you should steer away from steroid drugs, manage your stress levels, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.

Prevention & Management of Central Serous Retinopathy

man in glasses smiling while on laptop computer

There are no known ways to prevent central serous retinopathy, although some lifestyle changes can reduce your risk for the condition or improve your symptoms as you wait for it to clear up. For example, your eye doctor may recommend that you:

  • Stop taking steroid drugs with the help of your prescribing physician, if possible.
  • Get treatment for steroid drug abuse, if their use is not prescribed.
  • Find ways to lower your stress levels. Mindfulness or breathing exercises, yoga, and other physical practices are often recommended.
  • Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise to manage your stress levels.
  • Get enough sleep to reduce your overall stress and boost well-being.

While it can be frightening to lose your central vision and struggle with the other symptoms, the best course of action is to work with your ophthalmologist to monitor the problem. Usually, care providers wait for central serous retinopathy to clear up on its own.

If you suffer from worse symptoms, you do not get better in two months, or you develop new symptoms, your ophthalmologist will develop a treatment plan to prevent vision loss.

If you experience any degree of vision loss, see an eye care professional immediately. The sooner an issue is diagnosed, the better the long-term outcome.


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