QUICK FAQS: What You Need to Know About Coats’ Disease

Facebook / Tara Taylor
Facebook / Tara Taylor

“Hey, I’m sure it’s nothing. It’s probably the lighting, but your daughter’s eye is glowing and you might want to have it checked out because it’s a sign there could be an issue with her eye.”

This comment on a photo shared on Facebook saved a 3 year old’s eye sight.

We became curious about Coats’ disease and so we got one of the experts on pediatric eye care, Dr. Inna Marcus, from Virginia Eye Institute to give us the scoop on Coats’:

What is Coats’ disease?
Coats’ disease is caused by abnormal blood vessels inside the eye in the retina. These blood vessels are enlarged and leak. This interferes with normal nourishment of the retina; instead of bringing oxygen and nutrition throughout the retina the blood vessels leak fatty fluid into the areas that surround them. If a lot of fluid accumulates the retina can detach from the back of the eye, like peeling wallpaper, and cause vision loss.

Who is at risk for developing Coats’ disease and how does it develop?
Coats’ disease is a rare condition that begins in childhood. Boys are more likely than girls to develop this problem.

What are the treatment options for Coats’ disease?
Coats’ disease has 5 stages of severity. Treatment varies from laser treatment to surgery to repair retinal detachment.

What should parents look out for?
Coats’ disease can cause decreased vision but children often do not show any symptoms. It is often found due to an abnormal “red eye” reflex in photographs where the child is looking directly at the camera. The child’s pediatrician should check the pupils as part of the regular exam with an instrument that shows the red reflex in the pupil.

So don’t apologize for snapping those pictures! That flash could save your child’s sight!


Inna MarcusDr. Inna Marcus, M.D. specializes in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus, including amblyopia, ocular motility disorders, pediatric cataracts and glaucoma.  She received her Doctorate of Medicine from New York University following her undergraduate studies at Columbia University.  Dr. Marcus completed her ophthalmology residency at Yale University, and she completed her fellowship in pediatric ophthalmology and adult strabismus at Duke University. She is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Ophtalmology, and the American Association for Pediatric Ophtalmology and Strabismus.

VEI small logoAbout Virginia Eye Institute: VEI provides treatment for an entire range of ophthalmic needs, including cataract surgery, retinal disorders, glaucoma care, corneal disorders, pediatric eye care and adult strabismus, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, LASIK and refractive surgery, neuro-ophthalmology, optometry, as well as optical shops for glasses or customized contact lenses.

Parents can find more information about Coats’ disease on the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus website www.aapos.org.

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