What causes retinal vein occlusion?
A retinal vein occlusion occurs when a blood clot blocks a vein in the retina. This can lead to bleeding, swelling and loss of vision within a very short time. The hardening of arteries in elderly people can also cause the condition. A hardened artery can press against a vein in the eye. This can cause it to narrow, making a blood clot more likely.
Those most at risk of having a retinal vein occlusion are people with a blood clotting disorder. Those suffering from hypertension, high blood pressure or diabetes, especially the elderly, are also at significant risk. Anyone who has had a stroke would also be at risk. Other risk factors include smoking, being overweight, and glaucoma.
Have you ever seen occasional lightning streaks or flashes of light in your field of vision? If so you should see your doctor immediately!
Signs or symptoms of retinal vein occlusion
Vein occlusion tends to happen in one eye – at least at first. If smaller blood vessels in the eye get blocked, you may not even notice you have the condition. Normally, however, your vision would become blurred, or you would lose some or all your sight in the affected eye.
Other symptoms are seeing dark spots or feeling pain in the eye.
What your doctor will do
An eye specialist may dilate your eye by putting drops in it to make the retina more visible.
He or she may use an ophthalmoscope to check for signs of blockage or bleeding.
The specialist may decide to run a fluorescein angiography test. This involves injecting a dye into your arm, and then taking pictures of your eye as the dye flows through it. This method can detect fluid leaks in your blood vessels.
Another possible test is called optical coherence tomography. After dilation of the eye, a machine scans your eye to get a detailed image of your retina.