Retina Vein and Vitreo-Retinal Diseases


High blood pressure and other vascular diseases pose risks to overall health, but you may not know that they can affect eyesight by damaging the veins in the eye. There are several vascular retinal conditions that may develop: Central Retinal Vein Occlusion, Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion, Central Retinal Artery Occlusion, and Branch Retinal Artery Occlusion



What is Retinal Vein and Retinal Artery Occulsion?

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Retinal vein occlusion is a blockage of the small veins that carry blood away from the retina. The retina is the layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye that converts light images to nerve signals and sends them to the brain.

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Retinal Artery Occlusion

Retinal artery occlusion is a blockage in one of the small arteries that carry blood to the retina. The retina is a layer of tissue in the back of the eye that is able to sense light.

Retinal Artery Occlusion
What are causes of Retinal Vein and Retinal Artery Occulsion?

Retinal Vein

Retinal vein occlusion is most often caused by hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and the formation of a blood clot.

Blockage of smaller veins (branch veins or BRVO) in the retina often occurs in places where retinal arteries that have been thickened or hardened by atherosclerosis cross over and place pressure on a retinal vein.

Risk factors for retinal vein occlusion include:
1.Atherosclerosis
2.Diabetes
3.High blood pressure (hypertension)
4.Other eye conditions, such as glaucoma, macular edema, or vitreous hemorrhage

Retinal Artery

Retinal artery occlusion is a blockage in one of the small arteries that carry blood to the retina. The retina is a layer of tissue in the back of the eye that is able to sense light.

Clots may travel from other parts of the body and block an artery in the retina. The most common sources of clots are the heart and carotid artery in the neck.

Most blockages occur in people with conditions such as:
1.Carotid artery disease, in which the two large blood vessels in the neck become narrowed or blocked
2.Diabetes
3.Heart rhythm problem (atrial fibrillation)
4.Heart valve problem
5.High levels of fat in the blood (hyperlipidemia)
6.High blood pressure
7.Intravenous drug abuse
8.Temporal arteritis (damage to arteries due to an immune response)

If a branch of the retinal artery is blocked, part of the retina will not receive enough blood and oxygen. If this happens, you may lose part of your vision.

What are the Symptoms of Retinal Vein and Retinal Artery Occlusion?

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Sudden blurring or vision loss in all or part of one eye

Retinal Artery Occlusion

Sudden blurring or loss of vision may occur in:
•All of one eye (central retinal artery occlusion or CRAO)
•Part of one eye (branch retinal artery occlusion or BRAO)

The retinal artery occlusion may last for only a few seconds or minutes, or it may be permanent.

A blood clot in the eye may be a warning sign of clots elsewhere. A clot in the brain may cause a stroke.

What is the treatment for Retinal Vein and Retinal Artery Occulsion?

Retinal Vein Occlusion

Many people will regain vision, even without treatment. However, vision rarely returns to normal. There is no way to reverse or open the blockage.

You may need treatment to prevent another blockage from forming in the same or the other eye.

It's important to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. Some people may need to take aspirin or other blood thinners.

Treatment for the complications of retinal vein occlusion may include:
•Focal laser treatment, if macular edema is present
•Injections of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs into the eye. These drugs may block the growth of new blood vessels that can cause glaucoma. This treatment is still being studied.
•Laser treatment to prevent the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels that leads to glaucoma

Retinal Artery Occlusion

There is no proven treatment for vision loss that involves the whole eye, unless it is caused by another illness that can be treated.

Several treatments may be tried. These treatments must be given within 2 - 4 hours after symptoms begin to be helpful. However, the benefit of these treatments has never been proven, and they are rarely used.
•Breathing in (inhaling) a carbon dioxide-oxygen mixture. This treatment causes the arteries of the retina to widen (dilate).
•Massage of the eye
•The clot-busting drug, tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)

The health care provider should look for the cause of the blockage. Blockages may be signs of a life-threatening medical problem.