What are the Risk Factors for Retinal Vein Occlusion?
The risk factors for a retinal vein occlusion include anything that increases the stiffness of artery walls or elevates the propensity for forming blood clots. Factors that lead to hardening of the arteries include all of the familiar cardiovascular risk factors for heart attack and stroke: Blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, diet, exercise, weight, and family history. In younger patients, the propensity to form blood clots can be elevated by risk factors such as smoking, estrogen use, inherited clotting disorders, autoimmune conditions, and cancer.
In patients over the age of 50, the most common causes for retinal vein occlusion are cardiovascular risk factors. These folks should be sent for a primary care doctor evaluation of their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and counseling regarding their cardiovascular risk profile. Anyone who experiences a retinal vein occlusion under the age of 50 should also be evaluated for clotting disorders, autoimmune conditions, and blood disorders including cancer.
What are the Symptoms of a Retinal Vein Occlusion?
A retinal vein occlusion causes a sudden, painless blurring of vision in one eye. While a central retinal vein occlusion blurs all of the central vision, a branch retinal vein occlusion may only affect the upper visual field or lower visual field. The blurriness from retinal vein occlusion will not fluctuate, but rather persist for months or years if not treated promptly.
How is a Retinal Vein Occlusion Diagnosed?
If you suspect that you may have a retinal vein occlusion, seek a dilated examination with and ophthalmologist specialized in macula and retina conditions. During your visit, you will undergo specialized imaging that can evaluate whether retinal swelling is causing vision loss. The ophthalmologist will examine your retina and discuss treatment options with you.
If you are under the age of fifty or suspected to have an underlying systemic cause for your retinal vein occlusion, you may be sent for further laboratory testing or imaging. All patients who experience a retinal vein occlusion should have regular follow-up with their primary care doctor to monitor and treat cardiovascular risk factors.
How is Retina Vein Occlusion Treated?
A retinal vein occlusion is most commonly treated with injections of medicine into the eye. The medicine is specifically targeted to treat swelling of the retina, which can restore and protect central vision. While the injections have to be repeated every 4-12 weeks over months or years, they have been proven to prevent severe vision loss that can occur without treatment.
Sometimes, a retinal vein occlusion may be treated with laser. Typically, the laser is used in cases where injections are ineffective (rare) or when there is new blood vessel growth in the retina that can cause bleeding, glaucoma, or retinal detachment. While there are no surgeries to remove clots from a retinal vein, occasionally the surgical removal of blood from the eye is warranted.
Lastly, retinal vein occlusions that occur without symptoms, happen outside of the center of vision, or don’t cause retinal swelling can be safely monitored without treatment.
What is the Prognosis for a Retinal Vein Occlusion?
With appropriate and timely treatment, excellent vision can be achieved even after a retinal vein occlusion. Conversely, the most common cause for poor vision after a retinal vein occlusion is delay in diagnosis or treatment. Even in some cases of excellent follow-up however, the retinal vein occlusion is unresponsive to medical treatment due to severely reduced blood flow to the retina.
Expert Retinal Vein Occlusion Treatment
At Retina Care Consultants, P.A., we specialize in retinal vein occlusion treatment. Our team of experts has years of experience treating all types of retinal and macular conditions. We’ll find the right treatment for your needs and prevent further complications that could come as a result of the vein occlusion. Our thorough exam may involve dilation, blood tests, photographs, or other specialized imaging of the retina.
Contact Us At Retina Care Consultants, P.A.
There are effective ways to treat all forms of vein occlusion, so don’t delay your appointment if you are experiencing sudden, painless loss of vision in Sarasota, Bradenton, or Lakewood Ranch. If left untreated, vein occlusions can lead to glaucoma (intense eye pressure) and macular edema. Contact us today to get high-quality retinal vein occlusion treatment at one of our locations in Sarasota and Manatee County.
Get More Information About Retinal Vein Occlusion
For more information regarding this condition, check out our patient services education page. You can also visit the American Society of Retina Specialists resources about branch retinal vein occlusion or central retinal vein occlusion.