Retinal Vein Occlusion

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A retinal vein occlusion occurs when the circulation of a retinal vein becomes obstructed by an adjacent blood vessel. This results in the stoppage of blood flow, causing hemorrhages in the retina. The retinal veins are the small "pipes" in the retina that drain blood out of the retina, back to the heart. The veins drain the blood out of the eye, while the retinal arteries are the small pipes that deliver the blood (from the heart) to the retina.

Self Help & Tips

Retinal vein occlusion is second only to diabetic retinopathy as a cause of visual loss due to retinal vascular disease. There are two forms of retinal vein occlusion, branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO) and central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO). While there are similarities in the pathogenesis and clinical nature of these two events, each has unique etiologies, differential diagnosis, management and prognosis.

A branch retinal vein occlusion is essentially a blockage of the portion of the eye's circulation that drains the retina of blood.

Who is at Risk?

Branch retinal vein occlusions are by far the most common cause of retinal vascular occlusive disease. Males and females are affected equally. Most occlusions occur after age 50, although younger patients are sometimes seen with this disorder (in this age group it is often called papillophlebitis). The highest rate of occurrence is in individuals in their 60's and 70's. The risk factors for this disorder are similar to those for vascular occlusive disease elsewhere in the body such as stroke and coronary artery disease.


  • Sudden onset
  • Blurred or missing area of vision (if a branch vein is involved)
  • Severe loss of central vision (if a central vein is involved)


Possible causes or contributing factors include the following:

  • Aging, highest rate of occurrence in people in their 60s and 70s
  • High blood pressure, hypertension
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Glaucoma, diabetes, and other conditions are risk factors
  • Cardiovascular disease

Conventional Treatment

Vein occlusion is diagnosed by examining the retina with an ophthalmoscope. Fluorescein angiography may be performed in some cases to study the circulation of the retina and to determine the extent of macular edema or swelling.

Following a vein occlusion, the primary concern is to treat the secondary complications. If areas of the retina are oxygen-deprived, LASER may be used to prevent growth of delicate vessels that could break, bleed or cause glaucoma.

Self Help

We feel the health of the entire body is reflected in the health of the eyes. Therefore your lifestyle choices and your diet can are important getting and maintaining good vision. Below are some recommendations:

Diet & Nutrition

  • Certain nutrients such as zeaxanthin, lutein, gingko biloba, omega-3 fatty acids, bilberry and a number of other vitamins and enzymes may help preserve vision for those who are at risk of or have had experienced a Retinal Vein Occlusion.
  • Some research indicates that daily use of Microcurrent Stimulation may help preserve vision as well.
  • See nutrients to support eye vascular health

Lifestyle & General Health

  • Eliminate smoking. Smoking produces cyanide, a retinal toxin.
  • Limit the amount of medications as much as possible but be sure to work closely with your health provider.
  • Exercise daily - engage in at least 20 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, such as walking and swimming.
  • Care for your emotional health It is important for maintaining physical health. Take up the practice of yoga, meditation, tai chi, walks outdoors or prayer on a daily basis.

Retinal Occlusion News

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Circulation TipSee Vitamins & Supplements to support the eye vascular system and overall eye health.

Related Conditions

There are other conditions that either have similar conditions, or are due to similar causes, or respond to similar treatments.