Blockages are most often caused by blood clots, hardening of the arteries or when small pieces of cholesterol break off blood vessels.
Common risk factors for developing BRVO or CRAO include:
- Age — Blockages happen more frequently in those older than 65.
- Atherosclerosis — hardening of the arteries
- Blood clotting disorders
- High blood pressure
- Intravenous drug abuse
- Oral contraceptive usage
Retinal artery or vein occlusion is painless. It usually happens in one eye only and occurs more often in men than in women. It may come on suddenly or worsen gradually over several hours or days. Sudden loss of vision is an emergency, and you should contact a medical professional as soon as possible.
Common symptoms include:
- Blurry or dimming vision — Objects both near and far may appear fuzzy or poorly defined.
- Vision loss — Sudden loss of part or all vision may occur.
Vision loss associated with CRAO can be restored if blood flow to the retina is restored quickly, but the American Academy of Ophthalmology asserts that there is “no conclusive evidence to support” the use of CRAO treatment after 240 minutes of blockage.
While BRVO can’t be treated, ophthalmologists often treat the leaking retinal blood vessels with these options to prevent future macula swelling and developing new blood vessel growth:
- Laser treatment — Tiny laser burns around the macula can stop leaking fluid or diffuse laser burns in the retinal periphery to prevent abnormal blood vessel growth.
- Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor — These injections can help reduce macula swelling and temporarily dry up abnormal new blood vessel growth.
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If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of retinal artery and vein occlusion, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.
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