Learn About Retinal Artery Occlusion

What is the definition of Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Retinal artery occlusion is a blockage in one of the small arteries that carry blood to the retina. The retina is a layer of tissue in the back of the eye that is able to sense light.

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What are the alternative names for Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Central retinal artery occlusion; CRAO; Branch retinal artery occlusion; BRAO; Vision loss - retinal artery occlusion; Blurry vision - retinal artery occlusion

What are the causes of Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Retinal arteries may become blocked when a blood clot or fat deposits get stuck in the arteries. These blockages are more likely if there is hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) in the eye.

Clots may travel from other parts of the body and block an artery in the retina. The most common sources of clots are the heart and carotid artery in the neck.

Most blockages occur in people with conditions such as:

  • Carotid artery disease, in which the two large blood vessels in the neck become narrowed or blocked
  • Diabetes
  • Heart rhythm problem (atrial fibrillation)
  • Heart valve problem
  • High levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipidemia)
  • High blood pressure
  • Intravenous drug abuse
  • Temporal arteritis (damage to arteries due to an immune response)

If a branch of the retinal artery is blocked, part of the retina will not receive enough blood and oxygen. If this happens, you may lose part of your vision.

What are the symptoms of Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Sudden blurring or loss of vision may occur in:

  • All of one eye (central retinal artery occlusion or CRAO)
  • Part of one eye (branch retinal artery occlusion or BRAO)

The retinal artery occlusion may last for only a few seconds or minutes, or it may be permanent.

A blood clot in the eye may be a warning sign of clots elsewhere. A clot in the brain may cause a stroke.

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What are the current treatments for Retinal Artery Occlusion?

There is no proven treatment for vision loss that involves the whole eye, unless it is caused by another illness that can be treated.

Several treatments may be tried. To be helpful, these treatments must be given within 2 to 4 hours after symptoms begin. However, the benefit of these treatments has never been proven, and they are rarely used.

  • Breathing in (inhaling) a carbon dioxide-oxygen mixture. This treatment causes the arteries of the retina to widen (dilate).
  • Massage of the eye.
  • Removal of fluid from within the eye. The doctor uses a needle to drain a small amount of fluid from the front of the eye. This causes a sudden drop in eye pressure, which can sometimes cause the clot to move into a smaller branch artery where it will cause less damage.
  • The clot-busting drug, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).

The health care provider should look for the cause of the blockage. Blockages may be signs of a life-threatening medical problem.

Who are the top Retinal Artery Occlusion Local Doctors?
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Ophthalmology

Penn Presbyterian Medical Center

Philadelphia, PA 

Brian Vanderbeek is an Ophthalmologist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr. Vanderbeek has been practicing medicine for over 17 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Retinal Artery Occlusion. He is also highly rated in 9 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Age-Related Macular Degeneration, Retinal Artery Occlusion, Late-Onset Retinal Degeneration, and Diabetic Retinopathy. He is board certified in Ophthalmology and licensed to treat patients in Pennsylvania. Dr. Vanderbeek is currently accepting new patients.

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Highly rated in
10
conditions

University Medical Center Göttingen

Goettingen, NI, DE 

Nicolas Feltgen is in Goettingen, Germany. Feltgen is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Retinal Artery Occlusion. He is also highly rated in 10 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Retinal Artery Occlusion, Retinal Vein Occlusion, Retinal Detachment, and Mesenteric Venous Thrombosis.

 
 
 
 
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Elite
Highly rated in
24
conditions
Ophthalmology
Neurology

Emory Eye Center

Atlanta, GA 

Valerie Biousse is an Ophthalmologist and a Neurologist in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Biousse has been practicing medicine for over 34 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Retinal Artery Occlusion. She is also highly rated in 24 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Increased Intracranial Pressure, Pseudotumor Cerebri Syndrome, Papilledema, and Retinal Artery Occlusion. She is board certified in Ophthalmology and Neurology and licensed to treat patients in Georgia. Dr. Biousse is currently accepting new patients.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Retinal Artery Occlusion?

People with blockages of the retinal artery may not get their vision back.

What are the possible complications of Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Complications may include:

  • Glaucoma (CRAO only)
  • Partial or complete loss of vision in the affected eye
  • Stroke (due to the same factors that contribute to retinal artery occlusion, not due to the occlusion itself)
When should I contact a medical professional for Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Call your provider if you have sudden blurring or vision loss.

How do I prevent Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Measures used to prevent other blood vessel (vascular) diseases, such as coronary artery disease, may decrease the risk for retinal artery occlusion. These include:

  • Eating a low-fat diet
  • Exercising
  • Stopping smoking
  • Losing weight if you are overweight

Sometimes, blood thinners may be used to prevent the artery from becoming blocked again. Aspirin or other anti-clotting drugs are used if the problem is in the carotid arteries. Warfarin or other more potent blood thinners are used if the problem is in the heart.

Retina
What are the latest Retinal Artery Occlusion Clinical Trials?
Evaluation of the Utility of OCT Angiography in Assessing Vascular Perfusion in Rare Retinal and Choroidal Diseases
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A Prospective, Multicenter, Blinded Reading, Self Controlled, Superiority Priority Clinical Trial of Assisted Fundus Image Diagnosis Software for the Diagnosis of Multiple Eye Fundus Diseases
What are the Latest Advances for Retinal Artery Occlusion?
Treatment outcomes on neovascularization after CRAO treated with hyperbaric oxygen.
Retinal diffusion restrictions in acute branch retinal arteriolar occlusion.
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Manifestation of Susac syndrome during interferon beta-1a and glatiramer acetate treatment for misdiagnosed multiple sclerosis: a case report.
What are our references for Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Cioffi GA, Liebmann JM. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 395.

Crouch ER, Crouch ER, Grant TR. Ophthalmology. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 17.

Duker JS, Duker JS. Retinal arterial obstruction. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 6.19.

Patel PS, Sadda SR. Retinal artery occlusion. In: Schachat AP, Sadda SR, Hinton DR, Wilkinson CP, Wiedemann P, eds. Ryan's Retina. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 54.

Salmon JF. Retinal vascular disease. In: Salmon JF, ed. Kanski's Clinical Ophthalmology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 13.