Retinal Vein Occlusion

Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood from the heart and lungs to every organ in the body, and veins return the oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart.  In the retina, all veins funnel into one, large vein called the the central retinal vein.  A blockage in any of these tributary veins results in a backup of blood flow and leakage of blood and fluid from the blocked vein into the reitna. This creates retinal edema, or swelling, and ischemia, lack of oxygen, and results in decreased visual acuity.

Risk factors for retinal vein occlusion include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and glaucoma. Roughly one-third of patients with a retinal vein occlusion will have gradual, spontaneous improvement in vision. Another third of patients will maintain their current vision and approximately one-third of patients can experience a worsening of vision.

Symptoms to Watch for Retinal Vein Occlusion

High blood pressure contributes to hardened arteries, making it more likely that your retinal vein will develop an occlusion. High cholesterol is also a likely cause of vein blockage. Diabetes also puts you at higher risk for retinal vein occlusion. When a diabetic gets retinal vein occlusion, the results are usually more severe because the health of all of the arteries and veins is already compromised.

Watching for symptoms of RVO can help you get treatment right away and possibly save your vision. The most common symptom of RVO is sudden onset of blurry vision, especially in one eye.

Retinal Vein Occlusion Treatment in Silicon Valley

There are several treatment options to improve vision in patients with vision loss due to macular edema. These options include intravitreal injections (injections into the jelly-like substance that fills the back of the eye) with a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor (anti-VEGF). There are currently two FDA-approved anti-VEGF medications: Lucentis and Eylea, and one off-label anti-VEGF medication called Avastin. In addition, injection of steroids (Triamcinolone and Ozurdex) as well as laser therapy can be used to treat certain types of venous occlusions.

It is essential that patients with venous occlusions have frequent follow-up visits with their retinal specialist to check for new blood vessel growth (neovascularization). These “new”, abnormal blood vessels are very fragile and have the propensity to leak and spontaneously rupture. ECSV offers retinal vein occlusion treatment in the San Jose area.