Retinal vein occlusion is a condition that happens when one of the retinal veins becomes blocked by a blood clot. Though it’s usually painless, the damage can lead to vision loss in the affected eye. The most common risk factors for this condition include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and glaucoma. The best way to prevent retinal vein occlusion is by treating the underlying risk factor.
How Does Retinal Vein Occlusion Impact the Blood Vessels?
We’ve already discussed how retinal vein occlusion refers to a blocked retinal vein, but let’s talk more about what this means.
When one of the retinal veins is clogged, blood cannot drain away from the retina quite as easily. Blood starts to back up in the blood vessels, and this can lead to built up pressure. As a result, blood begins to leak from the blood vessels, causing damage to the retina and your eyesight.
How Common is Retinal Vein Occlusion?
The two main types of retinal vein occlusion are:
● Branch retinal vein occlusion: This is where the blockage occurs somewhere along one of the four retinal veins.
● Central retinal vein occlusion: This is where the blockage occurs in the main vein where the four retinal veins come together.
Branch retinal vein occlusion is the more common of the two. In fact, it’s one of the most common causes of vision loss in the world, and it’s more likely to happen to individuals over the age of 60.
What are the Symptoms and Treatment Options?
Typically, one of the first symptoms associated with retinal vein occlusion is vision loss in one eye. Some people also mention having a blind spot. There is typically no discomfort with the condition unless there are complications.
If you have any of the risk factors for the condition (i.e., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, etc.) and notice a change in vision, see a retina specialist right away. An eye specialist can diagnose the condition using a series of tests.
Though there is no treatment that can reverse damage caused by the blocked vein, the goal is to treat the underlying risk factor.