It can be difficult for doctors and patients alike to understand why a medical misdiagnosis has taken place. However, there are many reasons why an incorrect diagnosis could occur. One reason is that there are countless medical conditions that can closely mirror one another – even to such a degree that a trained and experienced medical professional with advanced diagnostic equipment could choose one condition over the correct issue.

One of the ways the medical industry (including the field of retina care) works to reduce instances of misdiagnoses is to better educate the community, particularly in cases where the condition is well known for being misdiagnosed. At Austin Retina Associates, we want to ensure that our doctors are armed with all available knowledge for patient care and that patients can feel confident in the decisions their doctors are making.

Three Commonly Misdiagnosed Retinal Conditions

Macular Hole

Often, patients who are referred to our practice by another doctor have been told that they have a macular hole, but what they actually have is a lamellar macular hole. The reason the two conditions are confused is that a macular hole is simply a more severe version of a lamellar macular hole. To further illustrate:

  • A macular hole extends through all of the retina layers; a lamellar macular hole does not.
  • A macular hole requires surgical treatment; a lamellar macular hole usually isn’t treated with surgery unless the patient’s vision worsens.


Sometimes, patients who were told that they have a retinal detachment actually have a condition called peripheral retinoschisis. The reason why the two conditions can be confused is that both feature an elevated retina. However, peripheral retinoschisis has a very thin appearing retina, a particular shape, and sometimes have white dots in its bed which distinguish it from a retinal detachment. The distinction is important since a retinal detachment is sight-threatening and treated with surgery while a peripheral retinoschisis is not sight-threatening and is observed.

Central Retinal Vein Occlusion

The presence of scattered blot hemorrhages in all four quadrants can be seen in both central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) and diabetic retinopathy. Both conditions can also cause visually significant macular edema. The difference between the two conditions ultimately lies in a CRVO diagnosis usually includes venous tortuosity and disc edema. We understand that what makes one retina condition different from another can be found in minute details. Many conditions are quite similar in nature, making a medical misdiagnosis both possible and unfortunately common. The ultimate goal is to never put a patient in a position where they lack confidence in their referring doctor or undergo unnecessary treatment. This is why our practice enjoys so many patient referrals and second opinion requests in order to help ensure the best possible patient care. If you have questions about any of the above conditions or would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our practice today.

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