A retinal vein occlusion occurs when the flow of blood to the retina is blocked. Typically, this happens because a blood clot is blocking the retinal vein due to an underlying health condition like diabetes. It’s important to see your eye doctor if you suspect something is wrong, as a retinal vein occlusion can lead to permanent damage and vision loss.
Knowing that a quick diagnosis can make all the difference in preventing further damage, it helps to be informed. Here is everything you need to know about retinal vein occlusions.
How Does a Retinal Vein Occlusion Happen?
Arteries carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body, whereas veins carry blood back to the heart. A blockage in the arteries or the veins is called an occlusion or stroke. The retina has veins, and if one of them is blocked, it cannot drain blood from the retina. As a result, hemorrhages can occur and leak fluid from the blood vessels.
There are two types of retinal vein occlusion. The first is central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), which occurs in the main retinal branch. The second is branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO), which are blockages in one of the smaller branch veins. Sometimes, there are no symptoms with BRVO.
Who is Most at Risk for an Eye Stroke?
People who have underlying health conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, are more likely to have a retinal vein occlusion. These conditions affect the blood vessels in the body, and the eye vessels are no exception.
Below are the types of health conditions that can raise your risk for retinal vein occlusion:
-High blood pressure
-Trauma to the eye
What are the Symptoms?
Not everyone has symptoms during an eye stroke, but some do. In almost every case, the occlusion happens in one eye. If you do have symptoms, they will most likely include:
-Missing spots of vision
-Dark spots or lines floating in the vision
-Pain and pressure in the eye
Another thing to watch for is the progression of symptoms. At first, you may only notice blurry vision. Yet the symptoms will get worse over the next few hours and days. See your doctor right away. Occlusions can lead to permanent damage and vision loss.
How are Occlusions Diagnosed?
When seeing your ophthalmologist, he or she will check your eyes and review your medical history. Your eyes will be dilated to check for signs of blockage or bleeding. Your eye doctor may also recommend a fluorescein angiography to take special pictures of your retina. The procedure is painless, but it does involve injecting dye into the bloodstream.
If you are diagnosed with a retinal vein occlusion, treatment will be recommended to protect your vision and treat your symptoms. While there is no cure, treatment options include steroid injections, focal laser therapy or laser surgery. You will also be encouraged to manage your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar as well as get your eyes checked yearly.
If you are at a higher risk for retinal vein occlusions, schedule an appointment with Empire Retina. We are retina specialists comfortable in diagnosing, treating and preventing CRVO and BRVO.