New hypotheses on the pathogenesis and treatment of serous retinal detachment

  • Michael F. Marmor
Clinical Investigations


Recent experimental work has shown that, under normal conditions, most subretinal fluid is absorbed rapidly by active transport across the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). However, in the presence of damage to the RPE blood-retinal barrier, subretinal fluid is rapidly cleared by passive forces. Thus, it is apparent that RPE defects do not by themselves cause serous retinal detachment. A hypothesis is presented that some serous detachments occur because normal metabolic transport systems of the RPE have been damaged, while the blood-retinal barrier remains intact to prevent passive drainage of the subretinal space. Under these conditions, a focal RPE “leak” can overload the system so that the serous fluid accumulates and persists. Photocoagulation of a leaking point can facilitate resolution of the fluid, but as long as the underlying metabolic dysfunction of the RPE persists, recurrence is possible. Some forms of serous detachment may thus be viewed as diffuse rather than focal ocular disorders in which the transport capability of the RPE has been damaged; such damage can result from systemic pathology such as adrenergic stress (e.g., central serous chorioretinopathy) or vascular disease (e.g., hypertension).


Retinal Pigment Epithelium Retinal Detachment Metabolic Dysfunction Central Serous Chorioretinopathy Subretinal Fluid 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael F. Marmor
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of OphthalmologyStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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