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Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary disease of the blood cells which is marked by flawed hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body. The disease interferes with the proper delivery of oxygen to the tissues.

The disease is found among people of African, Hispanic, Arabian, Greek, Italian, Sardinian, Turkish, Maltese and southern Asian ancestry. Some people carry the trait in their blood but do not have the disease. Someone with the trait has a mixture of normal and faulty hemoglobin in their red blood cells. They have enough normal hemoglobin to prevent the cells from sickling. These people can pass the trait to their children. If two people with the trait have children together, there is a 1 in 4 chance that their children will have the disease. Early screening of the parents’ blood helps with the prevention of this disease.


The disease causes the hemoglobin to form into stiff rods within the red blood cells and changes the shape of these cells. The red blood cells are supposed to be disc-shaped. But the sickle cell changes them into crescents, or sickle, shape which is how the disease got its name.

A major symptom of sickle cell anemia is the yellowing of the eyes and vision problems. The tiny blood vessels supplying oxygen to the eyes can become plugged with sickle cells and this lack of oxygen can damage the retina. The retina is the part of the eyes that processes visual images. The damage to the retina can lead to vision problems and eventually, blindness.

Apart from affecting the retina, the lack of oxygen to the muscles of the eyes can make the patient lose control of the eye, causing it to turn out.


There is as yet no cure for the disease, but there are treatments that have reduced the death rate among children and helped manage the levels of pain caused by the disease. Also, here are some lifestyle and home remedies you can apply:

  • Take folic acid supplements daily
  • Choose a healthy diet
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid extreme temperatures
  • Exercise regularly and moderately.
  • Ask your doctor before using over-the-counter (OTC) medication
  • See your eye doctor for any treatment the eyes might need.

With love and care, the disease can be managed and the patient will be able to live a good and productive life. It is important to always check the blood type of yourself and your spouse so you can get professional counsel on how to prevent your children from inheriting the disease. Contact us for more information on how this disease affects the eyes.