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Retinal Vein/Artery Occlusion

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Retinal Vein Occlusion (RVO) is most often related to hypertension and hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), resulting in the formation of a blood clot. The condition most often affects older people. Beyond atherosclerosis and hypertension, risk factors include diabetes, clotting disorders and other eye conditions like glaucoma.

Comparison between a healthy eye (left) and eye with Retinal Vein Artery Occlusion (right)

What are the Types of Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVO) is the blockage of a smaller (branch) vein that carries blood away from the retina.

Central Retinal Vein Occlusion (CRVO) is when the main (central) vein that carries blood away from the retina becomes blocked.

What are the Symptoms for Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Symptoms of Retinal Vein Occlusion include sudden painless blurring or vision loss in all or part of one eye.

How is Retinal Vein Occlusion Treated?

With both types of retinal vein occlusion, vision usually worsens due to swelling of the macula. The primary goal of treatment is to dry up the retina. In most cases, medication (anti-VEGF) is used to decrease the leakage of fluid into the retina.

In more severe cases of CRVO when abnormal blood vessels have developed, we may recommend a procedure called Panretinal Photocoagulation (PRP), where a laser is used to make tiny burns to areas of the retina. This helps lower the chance of bleeding, eye pressure problems and retinal detachment.

In most cases, patients see some improvement in their vision. Our skilled retina specialist has experience diagnosing and treating retinal vein occlusion.

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Retinal Artery Occlusion

A retinal artery occlusion (RAO) is a blockage in one or more of the arteries of your retina. The blockage can be caused by a clot or occlusion in an artery, or a build-up of cholesterol in an artery. Retinal artery occlusions are a type of stroke and must be evaluated as an emergency.

What are the Types of Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Branch Retinal Artery Occlusion (BRAO) is the blockage of a smaller (branch) artery that carries blood to part of the retina.

Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO) is when the main (central) artery that carries blood to the retina becomes blocked.

What are the Symptoms for Retinal Artery Occlusion?

The most common symptom of RAO is sudden, painless vision loss. It can affect all the vision of one eye, in the case of CRAO, or part of the vision in one eye, in the case of BRAO. Other symptoms include:

  • Loss of peripheral vision
  • Distorted vision, and
  • Blind spots

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical help right away to help prevent vision loss.

How is Retinal Artery Occlusion Treated?

An eye examination is necessary to determine if a RAO is present. An acute RAO is considered an emergency and you will be referred to a hospital emergency room for evaluation to make sure you are not having a brain stroke as well. The most important aspect of care is to investigate the cause of the RAO and to ensure your overall cardiovascular health is optimized. In general, there are no proven treatments that can reverse the vision loss from a RAO. However, it is important that the eye be monitored for side effects after the RAO which can include high eye pressures and the growth of abnormal blood vessels. Abnormal blood vessels may require either injections or laser to control their growth.

The vision loss after RAO is variable. In some cases, vision loss can be significant and permanent. Our skilled retina specialist has experience diagnosing and treating Retinal Artery Occlusion.

 

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