Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion
Branch Retinal Vein
Most people know high blood pressure and other vascular
diseases pose risks to overall health, but many may not know that high blood
pressure can affect vision by damaging veins in the eye. High blood pressure is
the most common condition associated with BRVO. About 10 to 12 percent of the
people who have BRVO also have glaucoma (high pressure in the eye).
Branch retinal vein occlusion blocks small veins in the
retina, the layer of light-sensing cells at the back of the eye. If the blocked
retinal veins are ones that nourish the macula, the part of the retina
responsible for straight-ahead vision, some central vision is lost. During the
course of vein occlusion, sixty percent or greater will have swelling of the
central macular vision area. In about one third of people, this macular edema
will remain for over one year.
BRVO causes a painless decrease in vision, resulting in
misty or distorted vision. If the veins cover a large area, new abnormal
vessels may grow on the retinal surface, which can bleed into the eye and cause
There is no cure for BRVO. Finding out what caused the
blockage is the first step in treatment. Your ophthalmologist may recommend a
period of observation, since hemorrhages and excess fluid may subside on their
own. Depending on how damaged the veins are, laser surgery may help reduce the
swelling and improve vision. Laser surgery may also shrink the abnormal new
blood vessels that are at risk of bleeding.
If you have had a branch retinal vein occlusion, regular
visits to your ophthalmologist are essential to protect vision.