Consultant Ophthalmologist,
Cataract & Refractive Surgeon

BMedSci BM BS MRCS MRCSEd MRCOpth FRCOphth MMedLaw PgD Cataract & Refractive Surgery

Central Retinal Vein Occlusion

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What's going on?

Sadly this is often bad news. The central retinal vein (the vein that drains blood out of the eye) has become blocked resulting in back pressure and rupture of the veins throughout the retina. If you imagine a central heating system which is blocked and yet the pump is still forcibly pushing the water round inevitably the joints will rupture and leak. Blood from the arteries cannot enter the eye and the retina becomes oxygen-starved causing part of it to die. The degree of this damage usually correlates well with the degree of visual loss. If the halt to blood flow is temporary, the vision may be fairly well preserved. With time the vein opens up again but the damage may have already been done. Visual recovery is uncertain.

If the damage is marked the eye can respond by trying to grow new blood vessels to supply the oxygen. These blood vessels can clog up the drainage network of the eye and result in glaucoma.

What will my ophthalmologist see?

There will be extensive haemorrhages throughout the retina. The optic nerve may be swollen and there may be an abnormality of pupil reactions.

What will my ophthalmologist do for me?

We will make the diagnosis and give you an idea of what the vision is likely to be at the end of it all. We will also detect any early glaucoma changes. Sometimes laser can prevent further complications. We will also advise you about the ways to stop this happening again to the affected eye or, more importantly the other eye.

What can I do?

Make sure your blood pressure is well controlled and take any medication we advise.

What do I need to know?

You have sustained severe damage to the eye. The visual prognosis is variable and the best indicator of final vision is the vision immediately after the event.