Learn About Retinal Vein Occlusion

What is the definition of Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Retinal vein occlusion is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye that converts light images to nerve signals and sends them to the brain.

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What are the alternative names for Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Central retinal vein occlusion; CRVO; Branch retinal vein occlusion; BRVO; Vision loss - retinal vein occlusion; Blurry vision - retinal vein occlusion

What are the causes of Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Retinal vein occlusion is most often caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and the formation of a blood clot.

Blockage of smaller veins (branch veins or BRVO) in the retina often occurs in places where retinal arteries that have been thickened or hardened by atherosclerosis cross over and place pressure on a retinal vein.

Risk factors for retinal vein occlusion include:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Other eye conditions, such as glaucoma, macular edema, or vitreous hemorrhage

The risk of these disorders increases with age, therefore retinal vein occlusion most often affects older people.

Blockage of retinal veins may cause other eye problems, including:

  • Glaucoma (high pressure in the eye), caused by new, abnormal blood vessels growing in the front part of the eye
  • Macular edema, caused by the leakage of fluid in the retina
What are the symptoms of Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Symptoms include sudden blurring or vision loss in all or part of one eye.

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What are the current treatments for Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Many people will regain vision, even without treatment. However, vision rarely returns to normal. There is no way to reverse or open the blockage.

You may need treatment to prevent another blockage from forming in the same or the other eye.

  • It's important to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
  • Some people may need to take aspirin or other blood thinners.

Treatment for the complications of retinal vein occlusion may include:

  • Focal laser treatment, if macular edema is present.
  • Injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs into the eye. These drugs may block the growth of new blood vessels that can cause glaucoma.
  • Laser treatment to prevent the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels that leads to glaucoma.
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What is the outlook (prognosis) for Retinal Vein Occlusion?

The outcome varies. People with retinal vein occlusion often regain useful vision.

It is important to properly manage conditions such as macular edema and glaucoma. However, having either of these complications is more likely to lead to a poor outcome.

What are the possible complications of Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Complications may include:

  • Glaucoma
  • Partial or complete vision loss in the affected eye
When should I contact a medical professional for Retinal Vein Occlusion?

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

How do I prevent Retinal Vein Occlusion?

Retinal vein occlusion is a sign of a general blood vessel (vascular) disease. Measures used to prevent other blood vessel diseases may decrease the risk for retinal vein occlusion.

These measures include:

  • Eating a low-fat diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Maintaining an ideal weight
  • Not smoking

Aspirin or other blood thinners may help prevent blockages in the other eye.

Controlling diabetes may help prevent retinal vein occlusion.

What are the latest Retinal Vein Occlusion Clinical Trials?
Optical Coherence Tomography Angiography in Subjects With Retinal Vascular Disease
Summary: This study will perform a prospective, longitudinal analysis of clinical and imaging findings from normal controls and subjects with retinal vascular disease to better define the diagnostic imaging criteria that signify change in disease stage. This includes disease progression in early stages of disease or disease regression with appropriate standard-of-care treatment.
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Comparison of Combined Intravitreal Bevacizumab and Oral Acetazolamide Versus Intravitreal Bevacizumab Alone for the Treatment of Macular Edema Secondary to Retinal Vein Occlusions
Summary: In this study, which will be performed as a randomized clinical trial, all patients with macular edema with central involvement (central macular thickness greater than 300 μm) and corrected vision less than or equal to 20/40 and better than 20/400 were included in the study. After a thorough eye examination, people are randomly divided into two groups. The first group was treated with intravitreal...
What are the Latest Advances for Retinal Vein Occlusion?
Minimal surgery for tractional retinal detachment secondary to branch retinal vein occlusion: a case report.
Summary: Minimal surgery for tractional retinal detachment secondary to branch retinal vein occlusion: a case report.
Polycythemia-Related Proliferative Ischemic Retinopathy Managed with Smoking Cessation: A Case Report.
Summary: Polycythemia-Related Proliferative Ischemic Retinopathy Managed with Smoking Cessation: A Case Report.
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Results of intravitreal dexamethasone implant (Ozurdex®) for retinal vascular diseases with macular edema: An observational study of real-life situations.
Summary: Results of intravitreal dexamethasone implant (Ozurdex®) for retinal vascular diseases with macular edema: An observational study of real-life situations.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date: February 17, 2022
Published By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Bessette A, Kaiser PK. Branch retinal vein occlusion. In: Schachat AP, Sadda SVR, Hinton DR, Wilkinson CP, Wiedemann P, eds. Ryan's Retina. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 56.

Desai SJ, Chen X, Heier JS. Venous occlusive disease of the retina. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 6.20.

Flaxel CJ, Adelman RA, Bailey ST, et al. Retinal vein occlusions preferred practice pattern. Ophthalmology. 2020;127(2):P288-P320. PMID: 31757503 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31757503/.

Freund KB, Sarraf D, Mieler WF, Yanuzzi LA. Retinal vascular disease. In: Freund KB, Sarraf D, Mieler WF, Yannuzzi LA, eds. The Retinal Atlas. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 6.

Guluma K, Lee JE. Ophthalmology. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 61.