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Retinal Vein Occlusion

What is a Retinal Vein Occlusion?
The retinal veins drain the blood from the retina. A retinal vein occlusion is a blockage of either the large central retinal vein or one of its smaller branches. With blockage of any vein, there is back-up pressure, which leads to hemorrhaging and fluid leakage in the retina.

What are the different types of Retinal Vein Occlusions?
Retinal vein occlusions are classified according to the location of the blockage. If the blockage occurred at the final retinal vein at the optic nerve (Central retinal vein), it is termed a central retinal vein occlusion. If the blockage occurred at one of the branches of the central retinal vein, it is termed a branch retinal vein occlusion.

How can this affect my vision?
Retinal vein occlusions are essentially strokes of the retina. Your vision can be affected from macular edema (swelling of the retina), neovascularization (new blood vessel growth in the eye), and ischemia (loss of blood flow to the retina).

What are some risk factors for developing a retinal vein occlusion?
Patients with a history of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, glaucoma, a clotting disorder, or an inflammatory disorder are at a higher risk for developing retinal vein occlusions. Many of these are modifiable risk factors so it is important to work with your primary care physician to decrease these risk factors.

What is the treatment of a retinal vein occlusion?
There is currently no single treatment to reverse a retinal vein occlusion, however there are many treatments available to your retinal specialist that he/she may use to help improve your vision. These treatments vary from observation, laser surgery, intravitreal injections of medications, to vitrectomy surgery. Each patient is different and requires a complete retinal examination. Often times, to help aid in deciding on treatment, fluorescein angiography and OCT (optical coherence tomography) are also obtained.