Congenital Hypertrophy of the Retinal Pigment Epithelium (CHRPE)
CHRPE is a flat, darkly pigmented spot found in the back of your eye. It can vary in size, ranging from a few to more than 10 mm in diameter. They are composed of enlarged cells with densely packed and larger-than-normal, spherical pigment granules. Pigment gives color to your skin, hair, and eyes.
Causes of CHRPE
You are born with a CHRPE in the eye, but it may go undetected until much later, often as part of a routine dilated eye examination.
The Dangers of CHRPE
While a CHRPE may grow slightly over time, it is not malignant. Thus, it does not pose a risk of spreading to other parts of your body. It rarely leads to any noticeable symptoms for your eyes; therefore, a CHRPE does not pose a risk to your vision.
This is in contrast to a choroidal melanoma (see above), which does pose a risk for malignancy and can be dangerous to your vision and overall health. Although CHRPEs and choroidal melanomas may appear similar, it is essential to have a thorough examination by an ophthalmologist to differentiate between the two.
While a single CHRPE poses no overall health risk, multiple CHRPEs in one or both eyes have been rarely associated with a genetic disease called Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (also known as Gardner Syndrome). These patients are prone to developing colon cancers and skin tumors in additional to the eye findings. If this is suspected, an evaluation by a gastroenterologist is crucial.
What are the treatment options for CHRPE?
CHRPE does not require treatment and can be monitored with repeat dilated eye examinations.