Central serous retinopathy (CSR)

My boyfriend, Toro, was recently diagnosed with this.

The vision in his left eye has been blurry for the past 6-8 months or so. He went to his optometrist back in May and he wasn’t able to adjust for 20/20 in his left eye, so he had him come back in July (3 months) to test again. He still wasn’t able to adjust for 20/20, so he told us to go to an ophthalmologist (I can never spell that word right) to see what’s going on. After trying to get an appointment at SF General and never hearing back, we just decided to Yelp one nearby with good ratings.

Ended up going to Dr. Akberi in Daly City and she diagnosed it as central serous retinopathy. Basically, there’s extra liquid behind the retina which pushes it out and makes the vision blurry. She said it happens more in males and is generally caused by stress, but usually goes away by itself in 3 months. Since it’s been happening for such a long time, she referred us to another specialist, Dr. Bansal, also in Daly City, for a consultation — possibly surgery.

Surgery on your eye? Scary. 🙁

Met with Dr. Bansal yesterday and he concurs that it is CSR. He’s having us come back in another 5 weeks to see if there’s any change before deciding on surgery or other possible solutions. Unfortunately, there’s no cure that has been shown to be 100% effective. Each method has risks or side effects and CSR can also be recurring.

This is the scan they did of his right eye (OD) and left eye (OS). The right eye is normal and I circled the part where you can see the excess liquid behind the retina in the left eye.

CSR scan

Since it is generally accepted that CSR is triggered by stress (cortisol), which is such a vaguely defined thing, I’ve decided that we’re going to make the most of these 5 weeks and see if just living a healthier lifestyle overall will help make it go away. I’ll be updating this post as we go along on what is, hopefully, a journey to recovery.


Plan of attack

1. Exercise

Although his job is physical already (he does cleaning and carpet cleaning), I don’t think it’s the same as dedicated exercise. I personally prefer the at-home workouts (like P90X), but he’s not really into them so the plan is to get into more active hobbies (we play pool all the time, but that is definitely not a workout).

Coincidentally, we were at my cousin’s house recently and we played ping pong for the first time and it was a lot of fun! So, I think we’ll mostly be going into racquet (racket?) sports like ping pong, tennis and badminton for cardio, and alternating with weight/resistance training to work those muscles into helping burn calories.

2. Meditation

I’m not sure how in-tune with himself my boyfriend is, but I figure this is worth a shot. I recently read a book called “Search Inside Yourself” by a guy who works at Google and I really liked how he described meditation. I think a lot of people don’t think they’re the “meditative” type, but the incremental way that the book teaches you to do it is doable. Like starting with just 2 minutes of meditation, and working your way up.

Might try to add some yoga in here too at some point.

3. Diet

Meals. We don’t really eat all that healthy and more often than not, we don’t plan out our meals ahead of time which means we frequent the nearby (fast food) restaurants. I recently ordered a bunch of frozen meals so that we at least have healthy(?) / whole foods that we can just quickly reheat in the microwave, instead of running out to McDonald’s. It’s working out pretty well so far and the food is alright/good. We still have a lot left in the freezer, but when that runs out I’m not sure if we’re going to reorder, or just try to buy a bunch of meats/veggies and freeze them ourselves in portions.

Vitamins/supplements. My boyfriend is currently taking a multivitamin (Vitafusion Men’s Daily Multivitamin gummy) and glucosamine chondroitin (Osteo Bi-Flex). I haven’t researched enough to decide whether to add in any dedicated supplements above and beyond what he’s already taking. Lately, I’ve also started applying magnesium oil onto his skin because I’ve read good things about magnesium oil. However, I don’t think we’ve noticed any results from that yet.

Update: I found this video on YouTube, which recommends taking Rhodiola, Schisandra and Ashwagandha. I polled the CSR Yahoo Group and one guy said he had good results from taking these three, so we’re trying that too.

Wolfberry / Carrots. When I told my mom about Toro’s CSR, the first thing she said was “gei-ji” (wolfberry / goji / goji berry), which is commonly used in Chinese medicine and is good for the eyes. What in the eyes exactly, I’m not sure. Maybe just like how carrots are good for the eyes too? Dr. Bansal said that taking antioxidants and lutein supplements weren’t shown to have any affect on CSR (although I think he said it helps in macular degeneration, which is a different thing). Anyhow, I don’t think it’ll hurt to try incorporating both into his diet.

Coffee. I also read from some CSR sufferers that coffee might trigger the condition, so he’s going to cut that out. He usually drinks a cup in the morning (loaded with lots of sugar and cream), so that’ll be good for his diet overall.

Coca Cola. He usually drinks some kind of soda (his favorite being Coke) after eating so that he can burp away excess gas. I’m thinking of buying a Sodastream machine so that we can make regular soda water to accomplish that without the extra sugars and additives. (Buying bottles of soda water is so expensive!)

Alcohol. He usually drinks beer on Fri/Sat nights when we play pool. And sometimes on Tue/Wed nights when we play pool too. It adds up when you think about it (3-4 times a week, 3-6 beers each time!), also evidenced by his growing beer belly, so he’s going to cut down or stop altogether. Ever since I first did P90X last year, I’ve cut down too, just drinking juice or soda water instead. Soda water works well in bars and stuff so at least you have a drink besides (tap) water. Plus it’s usually free or cheap.

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