Retinal Vein Occlusion

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Retinal Vein Occlusion is a severe type of eye disease in which a nerve in the retina is blocked. The retina is a thin layer at the back of the eyeball that has cells. These cells help the brain form visual images. When a nerve is blocked, it causes blurriness and loss of vision.

Retinal Vein Occlusion is indistinguishable with retinal artery occlusion — an eye disorder that is similar to RVO. The vein feeds the eye with blood. The disturbance in the retina occurs when this blocked vein does not circulate blood to the retina and causes pressure build-up in the eye.

Usually, a blood clot is the reason behind abnormal blood circulation. In some cases, an artery is behind bad blood flow.

Arteries and blood vessels overlap or cross over each other at the back of the eye. If an artery swells or hardens, it starts pressing other blood vessels, causing the blood to be choppy and forming blood clots.

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Three diseases, diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol, are behind bad blood flow. So, people who have any of these diseases are at a bigger risk of getting RVO.

What increases the risk of RVO:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Leukemia
  • Atherosclerosis (Hardened arteries)
  • Glaucoma
  • Multiple myeloma patients
  • Fast Aging
  • Lymphoma patients
  • Trauma to the eye

Symptoms

It might be a little difficult for you to catch the signs of RVO at the beginning, especially if the blockage is in the smaller blood vessels. Most of the time, it happens in one eye only. If the symptoms are in the larger veins, you can experience the following symptoms:

  • Blurriness in the vision
  • Missing some or whole part of the sight
  • Floating or dark spots in the vision
  • Pressure in the eyes

Retinal vein occlusion is a serious eye disorder that can damage your eye within a minute. So, if you notice any signs of it, see an eye physician immediately.

Diagnosis

Your eye specialist will carry out several tests to diagnose the RVO. Determining the eye function and the appearance of the pupil — they will inspect the pressure and vision within your eyes. A blood test might also be performed to determine blood clotting conditions.

Using eye drops to dilate the eyes — the retina is closely inspected by the doctor through Ophthalmoscope (a tool) to look for bleeding or blockage.

Another method used to diagnose RVO is fluorescein angiography. Injecting a fluorescent dye into your arm that goes into the bloodstream and reaches the veins in the retina. Once the dye enters the eye, it will be examined closely.

Some eye doctors diagnose the retina through optical coherence tomography (OCT) to capture an HD image of the retina. OCT is a type of non-invasive imaging test that takes cross-section images using light waves.

Treatment

The patient may get a normal vision back without undertaking proper treatment. But this has happened very rarely.

Retinal Vein Occlusion cannot be treated directly. However, the symptoms can be cured. Medication such as blood thinners is used.

  • To build fluidity in the retina, antivascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) drugs like aflibercept and ranibizumab are injected into the eye. It also helps the person have a better and clearer vision and reduced swelling.
  • After injecting a pain-numbing drug — the asteroid is given to the patient. During this, the person may feel slight discomfort, but there is not much pain involved.
  • To prevent any further damage, the eye specialist may recommend a laser therapy that will disassemble the blockage in the blood vessel. Laser therapy may give a slight discomfort to the patient, but it will not cause any pain
  • Your doctor will advise you on a laser surgery if a new blood vessel is formed within the eye. Putting small burns to the retina, laser surgery stops that vein from growing or anymore leak

Prevention

Retinal vein occlusion is triggered due to an underlying disease or condition. To avoid RVO, manage your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol properly.

If you have diabetes, get your eyes checked annually or twice a year because a diabetic patient is prone to eye diseases.

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