Retinal Vein and Artery Occlusion
Are you suffering from blurred vision or blind spots? Are you having unexplained pain or pressure in one of your eyes? It’s possibly caused by a retinal vein or artery occlusion. Retinal vein occlusion and retinal artery occlusion block the flow of blood to and from your retina and can lead to permanent vision loss.
We Provide Emergency Care for Retinal Vein & Artery Occlusion
If you are experiencing changes in vision such as blind spots or eye pain, get in touch with us now. We will do everything we can to arrange for you to meet with an ophthalmologist who can provide the prompt diagnosis and treatment you need.
We accept new patients every day, and urgent or emergency referrals are seen the same day.
Retinal Vein Occlusion vs. Retinal Artery Occlusion
Your retina is a layer of photoreceptors within your eye that turns incoming light into signals to your brain, allowing you to see. When a retinal vein or retinal artery becomes blocked, it can cause blurry vision and lead to permanent vision loss. Here is a closer look at retinal vein and artery occlusions and how they differ:
Retinal Vein Occlusion
A retinal vein occlusion occurs when the veins that carry blood away from your retina become blocked. There are both central retinal vein occlusions (CRVO) and branch retinal vein occlusions (BRVO). Patients with either a branch or central retinal vein occlusion may suffer from gradual changes in vision, a sudden loss of vision, or no symptoms at all. Retinal veins take blood away from the retina. When one of these veins is blocked, it causes an increase in pressure, which can also lead to pain, swelling, and bleeding.
Retinal Artery Occlusion
A retinal artery occlusion occurs when a retinal artery that carries blood to your retina becomes blocked. This blockage is usually caused by a clot or a build-up of cholesterol. It can affect a branch retinal artery (BRAO) or central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO). Central retinal artery occlusion is a type of stroke and must be treated immediately. While branch or central retinal vein occlusion can have a gradual onset, the symptoms of a blocked retinal artery occur suddenly and lead to temporary or permanent vision loss. Delayed treatment increases this risk.
The Symptoms Of Retinal Vein and Artery Occlusion
The symptoms of a retinal vein and retinal artery occlusion are similar. However, the symptoms of central retinal artery occlusion occur suddenly and require immediate treatment.
- Blurred Vision or Blind Spots – An occlusion could cause blurry, distorted, or lost vision in a single part of your visual field, or your entire visual field.
- Dark Spots – Seeing dark spots or floating lines is also a common symptom of artery and vein occlusions.
- Eye Pain – Eye pain or pressure is a common symptom in retinal vein occlusion, but not retinal artery occlusion.
The Risk Factors For Retinal Vein And Artery Occlusions
Both types of occlusions are caused by a blockage in either your retinal veins or arteries, so good cardiovascular health is important in preventing these conditions. People with high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, or high cholesterol are at greater risk of developing a blockage.
People who are overweight or obese have a greater risk of developing one of these conditions. Being overweight can also put you at risk for developing Type II diabetes, which also can significantly increase your risk of developing retinal vein or retinal artery occlusion.
Habitual smoking can cause numerous issues with your eyes. Dry eyes, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy, and other serious ocular conditions become more likely with smoking. Smoking can also put you at a greater risk of developing retinal artery or retinal vein occlusion.
Retinal artery and retinal vein occlusions most commonly occur in people in their 60s. Advanced age also puts you at greater risk for developing other health issues that can affect your eye health like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The Diagnostic Process for Retinal Vein and Artery Occlusion
You should contact our medical professionals serving the Shawnee Mission area immediately if you have experienced sudden vision loss or other changes in vision. Central retinal artery and central retinal vein occlusion can lead to sudden and permanent vision loss if not treated as soon as symptoms appear. When you meet with our ophthalmologists, you can expect:
- Medical History Review – Your doctor will review your full medical history so they will know if you are at a higher risk for developing one of these retinal conditions.
- Dilation – Your doctor will apply eye drops to dilate your pupils and check your retina for signs of any blockage.
- Tests – Your doctor may require additional tests such as fluorescein angiography (use of special dye and a camera to examine the retinal veins and arteries) or optical coherence tomography (taking digital cross-section images of the retina) to further examine the condition of your retina.
Retinal Vein Occlusion Treatment
Unfortunately, there is no cure for retinal vein occlusion. However, there are treatments that can help protect your vision and reduce any side effects or complications from the disease.
Your doctor could choose to use an anti-vascular endothelial growth factor injection. This injection helps ease the swelling by stopping or slowing the blood vessels from leaking or new blood vessels from forming. Steroid injections can also be used to help alleviate the swelling. A local anesthetic is applied before the injections so there is minimal discomfort.
Focal Laser Therapy
If the vein occlusion is causing fluid to build up in the macula (center of the retina), this laser therapy can cauterize the blood vessels in the back of your eye to keep them from leaking. This will reduce swelling and any pain associated with retinal vein occlusion. Since there are no pain receptors in the retina, you should feel no discomfort during this treatment.
If you have started to form new blood vessels, this surgery can help prevent new ones from forming by making tiny burns along the retina.
Retinal Artery Occlusion Treatments
When it comes to retinal artery occlusion, timing is everything.
Treatment for retinal artery occlusion must be given within a few hours of the onset of symptoms. When given in a timely manner, these treatments can help to restore your vision:
- Inhalation – Inhaling a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen causes the arteries to dilate and helps to release the occlusion.
- Fluid Removal – Your doctor may be able to remove some of the fluid to help the clot move past your retina.
- Medication – A clot-busting drug can be used to help remove the block and alleviate your symptoms.
Get Advanced Care for Retinal Vein & Artery Occlusions in Kansas and Missouri
If you have had a retinal vein or artery occlusion, you must see a doctor right away. To schedule a comprehensive eye exam, contact Retina Associates of Kansas City today. With locations throughout Kansas and Missouri, we’re easily accessible to patients from Kansas City, Topeka, Sedalia, and other surrounding areas.