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What is retinal vein occlusion?


Retinal vein occlusion (RVO) 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. These retinal nerve cells need a constant supply of blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients.


When the flow of blood from the retina is blocked, the retinal nerve cells can die and vision may be lost. Because all of the blood from the retina drains through one large vein, a blockage of that vein can affect all the vision in that eye.



Why do people get retinal vein occlusion?


RVO is the second most common retinal vascular disease after diabetic retinopathy. It happens when a blood clot blocks the vein. Sometimes it happens because the veins of the eye are too narrow.


It is more likely to occur in people with diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, or other health problems that affect blood flow.


Management of underlying medical conditions and cardiovascular risk factors is important in the treatment of RVO.



How does the doctor know whether someone has a retinal vein occlusion?


         The symptoms of RVO range from subtle to very obvious. There is painless blurring or loss of vision. It almost always happens in just one eye. At first, the blurring or loss of vision might be slight, but it gets worse over the next few hours or days. Sometimes there is a complete loss of vision almost immediately.


If these symptoms occur, it is important to schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. RVO often causes permanent damage to the retina & loss of vision. It can also lead to other eye problems.