The most common cause of a blockage is one vessel pressing down on another and causing it to narrow and occlude. Occasionally, a blockage can occur from a blood clot. A retinal vein occlusion may result in the leakage of fluid from the blood vessels. This fluid causes the retina to swell and thicken. The swelling of the retina is called macular edema, and it can cause blurry vision or loss of vision.
An additional complication of a retinal vein occlusion is the growth of abnormal new blood vessels. These blood vessels can grow in the back of the eye and bleed. Or they can grow in the front of the eye (on the iris or colored part of the eye) and cause the eye pressure to go up. When the eye pressure rises too high, it can cause permanent damage to the vision and pain.
Retinal vein occlusions can block the central vein or a branch vein.
It is very important to be evaluated by an ophthalmologist right away if you have any symptoms.
Without treatment, a retinal vein occlusion can cause blindness.
Dr. Cunningham with a patient.
Your eye doctor may refer you back to your primary care physician for additional testing to determine if you have blocked blood vessels elsewhere.
Two different tests are often used to determine the extent of damage from a retinal vein occlusion.
1) Fluorescein Angiography — Special pictures that look at the blood flow to the retina. A yellow dye (called fluorescein) is injected into a vein, usually in your arm or hand. A camera is then used to take photos of the inside of you eye.
2) Optical coherence tomography (OCT) — A machine that scans the retina and provides detailed images of the retina, like a virtual biopsy. This scan helps your doctor identify swelling and leakage of fluid in the retina.
A retinal vein occlusion can cause vision loss or blurry vision. Treatments consist of medication injections in the eye and sometimes laser treatment. It is also important to control other health problems like diabetes and high blood pressure.
Retina: Layer of nerve cells lining the back wall inside the eye. This layer senses light and sends signals to the brain so you can see.
Vitreous: Jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye.
Floaters: Tiny clumps of cells or other material inside the vitreous. These look like small specks, strings or clouds moving in your field of vision.
Medication Injections and Laser Procedure
What is a Retina Specialist?
Make sure blood sugar is under control for at least a week before an eye exam
and your blood sugar levels are stable.
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