Lattice degeneration refers to thinning of the peripheral retina and is seen in approximately 10% of the population. It is often, but not always, seen in patients with myopia (nearsightedness). The term “lattice degeneration” comes from the white crisscrossing lines which are the classic appearance of lattice lesions.
As one ages, the clear gel-like substance that fills the eye (vitreous) develops a more fluid consistency and eventually separates from the retina. In eyes with lattice, there are places where the vitreous is more strongly attached to the retina. When the vitreous separates from the retina, tears and holes can develop due to traction forces. Tears and holes can allow the vitreous fluid to collect under the retina causing a retinal detachment.
Fortunately, most people with lattice degeneration do not develop a retinal detachment. Preventive treatment with laser is rarely needed but lattice degeneration should be monitored. If you have a history of lattice degeneration, you should be aware of the symptoms of retinal tears (sudden flashes and floaters) and detachment (shadow or curtain affecting peripheral vision).