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Retinal vein occlusion

Contents of this page:

Alternative Names   

Central retinal vein occlusion; Branch retinal vein occlusion; CRVO; BRVO

Definition    Return to top

Retinal vein occlusion is a blockage in the blood supply from the retina -- the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye.

Causes    Return to top

Veins of the retina can become blocked by a blood clot. Retinal vein occlusion also can occur when the retinal arteries put pressure on the retinal vein. This is usually caused by a condition such as:

Retinal vein occlusion most often affects older people. Risk factors are related to the disorders that cause the blockage.

Symptoms    Return to top

Exams and Tests    Return to top

Tests to evaluate the retina include:

Other tests may include:

The health care provider should closely monitor any blockage for several months, because many harmful effects, such as glaucoma, take 3 or more months to develop.

Treatment    Return to top

Treatment can include aspirin and laser therapy.

Clinical trials are now underway to determine whether drugs that stop the growth of abnormal blood vessels (anti-VEGF drugs) might help treat retinal vein occlusion.

Outlook (Prognosis)    Return to top

The outcome varies. Patients with retinal vein occlusions often regain excellent sight.

Possible Complications    Return to top

When to Contact a Medical Professional    Return to top

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

Prevention    Return to top

The measures used to prevent other blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease, may decrease the risk of retinal vein occlusion. These measures include:

Aspirin is commonly used to prevent additional blockages in the vein.

Controlling diabetes is also helpful for preventing retinal vein occlusion.

References    Return to top

Wu L, Arevalo JF, Roca JA, Maia M, Berrocal MH, Rodriguez FJ, et al. Pan-American Collaborative Retina Study Group (PACORES). Comparison of two doses of intravitreal bevacizumab (Avastin) for treatment of macular edema secondary to branch retinal vein occlusion: results from the Pan-American Collaborative Retina Study Group at 6 months of follow-up. Retina. 2008;28:212-219.

Kreutzer TC, Alge CS, Wolf AH, Kook D, Burger J, Strauss R, et al. Intravitreal bevacizumab for the treatment of macular oedema secondary to branch retinal vein occlusion. Br J Ophthalmol. 2008;92:351-355.

Update Date: 4/22/2008

Updated by: Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS, Director of Ophthalmology Training, Institute for Family Health, Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology, New York College of Medicine, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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