Retinal vein occlusions
A retinal occlusion is a blockage in one of the blood vessels in your retina that can result in vision loss. The main cause of retinal occlusions is atherosclerosis, a hardening of the blood vessels that makes it harder for blood to flow through them. Occlusions can also be caused by blood clots.
Risk factors for retinal vein occlusions include:
- Being over the age of 60
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Unlike some eye conditions, retinal occlusions are not hereditary.
Retinal occlusions can often happen with little or no warning. Some people may experience brief periods of dimmed or blurry vision as a warning sign, along with redness and extreme sensitivity to light. If you have changes to your vision make an appointment to see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
Diagnosis and treatment of retinal vein occlusions
If we suspect you have a retinal vein occlusion we will perform a comprehensive set of tests to help us make a diagnosis. This may include using an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanner to take a high definition image of your retina. We may also run a fluorescein angiogram to highlight the blood vessels in your eye and see where the blood supply is poor. These tests both use the latest technology to ensure the clearest diagnosis possible.
Your treatment will depend on your diagnosis. Mild occlusions sometimes get better without treatment. Severe occlusions often get worse and you can lose vision permanently if they are left untreated. The two types of treatment for retinal occlusions are: injections of medication directly into the eye (called intravitreal injections) and laser treatment.
At Eye Specialists Group we carry the full range of medications designed to treat retinal vein occlusions. These medications include anti-vascular endothelial growth factor drugs. We also keep unpreserved steroids on hand for immediate use. Unpreserved steroids provide a better treatment option as they are designed specifically for the eye and don’t carry the risk of inflammation that can arise from steroids containing preservatives. For longer lasting treatment, we can also inject a steroid implant called Ozurdex into the eye. All our injections are carried out in special rooms designed to make you feel most comfortable and at ease.
If your retinal vein occlusion requires laser treatment, we can also perform this procedure in-house, under local anaesthetic so there’s no need for additional time and travel. Our laser allows for us to deliver treatment with a highly specialised light called a slit lamp. We can also use an indirect laser for greater access to the retina. Laser treatment can be used to stop the growth of new, abnormal blood vessels and is sometimes helpful in restoring vision in certain cases.