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Retinal Vein Occlusions

Retinal vein occlusions are like small blood clots in the eye. When the retina vein is blocked, the eye could hemorrhage (leak blood). At Philadelphia Retina Associates we see two types of vein occlusions: central vein occlusion, which affects the main retina vein, and branch vein occlusion, which affects the smaller veins that branch off the main vein.  There is no cure for retinal vascular disease, but there are things we can do to restore blood flow and prevent serious damage to your vision. 

The risk for retinal vein occlusions increases as you age, but the risk is significantly higher if you have other conditions that affect blood flow, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. The main symptom of a vein occlusion is a sudden change in your vision. The reduction of blood flow causes swelling and pressure changes inside the eye, which can lead to a temporary loss of vision or very blurry vision. 

Diagnostic Imaging

If the ophthalmologist suspects you have a retinal vein occlusion, there are special imaging tests that can confirm the diagnosis. Ultrasound and fluorescein angiography are used to take pictures of the blood vessels in the eye and look for signs of restricted blood flow. Our ophthalmologists will also check for swelling using optical coherence tomography (OCT), which measures the thickness of your retina.

Treatment for Retinal Vein Occlusions

Although there is no way to actually remove the blockage, there are treatments that can help reduce the swelling and restore blood flow. Some of the most effective treatments for vein occlusions include intravitreal injections and laser therapy. 

  • Intravitreal injections contain special medication that can reduce inflammation in the eye. If the swelling goes down, blood flow is likely to improve.  
  • Laser therapy can be used to seal leaky blood vessels and stabilize pressure inside the eye. 
  • It can take many months for the vein occlusion to completely go away even with treatment, so prevention is the best approach. You can prevent blood clots by managing your health to prevent diabetes-related and other vascular-related complications.

For more information on retinal tears and detachment, call Philadelphia Retina Associates, formerly Deglin & Greene Retinal Center, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at (215) 335-3088 or request an appointment online.

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