Retinal Vein Occlusion
Retinal Vein Occlusion Symptoms
The main symptom of retinal vascular occlusion is a sudden change in your vision. This could include blurry vision, or a partial or complete loss of vision, usually in just one eye. Retinal vascular occlusion does not cause physical pain.
You should make an appointment with your eye doctor right away if you experience any changes in your vision. Get emergency treatment immediately if you suddenly lose vision in one eye. Changes or damage to your eyesight can be short term or permanent, depending on how quickly it is treated or if you have other health conditions.
Retinal Vein Occlusion Causes ² ³ ⁴
Retinal vein occlusion is caused by some kind of blockage in the vein which stops the blood flow. This is usually a combination of narrowing veins and a blood clot. The exact cause is unknown, but there are several factors and conditions that can put you at a higher risk. These can include:
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis),
- High blood pressure (hypertension),
- High cholesterol (hyperlipidemia),
- Blood clots that have travelled from other parts of the body,
- Heart problems,
- Being overweight,
- Intravenous (IV) drug use,
- Some rare blood disorders,
- Inflammatory disorders,
- Other eye conditions, such as glaucoma (high pressure in the eye that damages the optic nerve), macular edema (fluid buildup and swelling in the retina), or vitreous haemorrhage.
The risk of many of these disorders increases with age, so retinal vein occlusion is more common in older people.
Retinal Vein Occlusion Treatment and Prevention
For many people, their vision will improve again but it’s rare that vision will completely return to normal.
There is no way to reverse or open a blockage5 so BRVO and CRVO treatment will focus on the underlying cause. BRVO and CRVO are very different conditions, so require different treatments. That means it’s essential that you get tested quickly so your doctor can identify the type of occlusion you have. Identifying and treating the cause is important to stop the problem from getting worse or appearing in the other eye.
This means it’s also important to manage conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This can also help reduce the risk of other blood vessel blockages that could cause a stroke, heart attack, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism (a blocked vein in the lungs).
You may also be treated for eye complications associated with retinal vein occlusion. This may involve steroids or anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) injections to treat macular edema. Laser treatment might be used to help repair some of the damage caused by retinal vein occlusions or to prevent abnormal blood vessels from growing that can cause glaucoma.⁶
You will be monitored over the coming weeks and months by the hospital for any further developments especially in the case of the more serious CRVO. It may take three or more months for harmful effects such as glaucoma to develop after the occlusion.
Exercising, eating a low-fat diet, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking if you are a smoker are the most important changes you can make to help to reduce the risk of developing blood vessel diseases in the first place.
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