Patients having eye exams in Houston who are told that they have “Bear Tracks”, “Retina Freckles” or “Pigment Spots” should be aware that there may actually have an increased need for colonoscopy to screen for polyps and colon cancer. You may wonder what having 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”. “During regular eye exams when we find these areas of retinal pigmented epithelial hypertrophy they typically they do not cause any vision problems or symptoms and are pretty unremarkable,” commented Houston eye specialist Dr. Da-Thuy Van an Ophthalmologist at The Eye Clinic of Texas.

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. 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. 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. A study published in 2010 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that patients with such freckles should be referred for colonoscopies.

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.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about Congenital Retinal Pigment Epithelial Hypertrophy (CHRPE) please call The Eye Clinic of Texas at 800-423-3937, visit The Eye Clinic of Texas or facebook.com/ecot.lasik to schedule an appointment.

The Eye Clinic of Texas is an affiliate of Houston Eye Associates, the largest ophthalmology clinic in the nation. We are a leading eye care practice serving the greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City area that provides all aspects of general, medical, surgical, laser and optical eye care services. Our Board Certified Ophthalmologists perform Laser Eye Surgery such as LASIK, Cataract Surgery & Lens Implants using advanced technology IOLs to correct complex problems such as astigmatism and near vision focusing problems including presbyopia, diagnosis and management of glaucoma, diagnosis and management of diabetic retinopathy, diagnosis and management of Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) and Pediatric Ophthalmology. Texas EyeWear at The Eye Clinic of Texas provides personalized consultation and fitting of eyeglasses and eyeglass lenses for greater Houston, Galveston, League City and Texas City area patients.