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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
You’ll see that when it’s time to make an appointment with a specialist in Retina and Vitreous diseases, you can trust your eye health to the team at Inland Valley Retina Medical Associates, Inc.