Hello, my name is Gregory. When I was a young lad, I had to enter the health care world in an unexpected way. I developed a serious disease out of the blue that took doctors by surprise. I went through so many different testing procedures before my doctors could diagnose the rare disease. Everyone around me reeled as they tried to understand the purpose and process of the diagnostic tests. I hope to help others understand these important tests better through this website. Please come by often to learn all you need to know about medical diagnostics and working closely with health care professionals.
Blood clots can form in any of the veins in your body, including the central retinal vein, the vein that drains blood from your retina. The retina is a tissue that focuses the images that you see and turns them into electric signals that your brain can understand. Therefore, blood clots in the central retinal veins are potentially threatening to your sight and require immediate treatment. Here are four things you need to know about central retinal vein occlusion.
What causes central retinal vein occlusion?
The exact cause of central retinal vein occlusion still isn't known, but many risk factors have been identified. Here are factors that have been linked to an increased risk of central retinal vein occlusion:
Hypertension (high blood pressure);
Open-angle glaucoma (high pressure within the eye);
Oral contraceptive use;
Diseases such as Lyme disease, Behcet's disease or sarcoidosis.
Factors that reduce your risk of this condition have also been identified. Increased physical activity has been linked to a decreased risk of central retinal vein occlusion, and surprisingly, alcohol consumption has been as well.
What are the signs of central retinal vein occlusion?
Many signs can indicate that you're suffering from central retinal vein occlusion. You may notice that the vision in one of your eyes is gradually becoming blurred or that you've suddenly lost your vision in one eye. Both of these situations are painless. Due to the lack of pain, you may assume that the vision loss isn't serious and will resolve itself on its own, but this is not the case.
New floaters are another warning sign of central retinal vein occlusion. Floaters are the dark spots or wiggly lines that you see in your vision, and while it's normal to have some floaters, the development of new floaters is cause for concern and necessitates a visit to your optometrist. New floaters are a concern even if you haven't experienced the aforementioned vision loss.
To understand why new floaters are such a big concern, you need to understand what happens inside your eye when you have a central retinal vein occlusion. When central retinal veins get blocked with clots, blood begins to pool within the retina. To protect itself, the retina needs to quickly grow new veins to allow the de-oxygenated blood to leave the retina and flow back to the heart. These new veins are shoddily built and leak easily; the blood that leaks out of these veins and into your vitreous casts shadows on your retina, which you see as new floaters in your vision.
What complications are associated with it?
Central retinal vein occlusion can lead to macular edema, a condition characterized by swelling of the central portion of the retina. This swelling is caused by the leaky new blood vessels your retina created in response to a clot in the central retinal vein. Blood and fluids escape from these vessels and accumulate within your retina, which makes the retina thick and swollen. If this swelling isn't controlled, it can irreparably damage your retina.
How is central retinal vein occlusion treated?
Your optometrist will need to refer you to an ophthalmologist that specializes in retinal disorders to receive treatment. Medications used to treat blood clots in other areas of the body, like aspirin, warfarin or heparin, can be used to thin your blood and dissolve the clot. If macular edema has developed, anti-inflammatory medications are required to get the swelling under control.
A variety of surgical procedures can also be performed to treat this condition. Laser photocoagulation is the treatment of choice, and it involves burning the leaking blood vessels with a laser to seal them and prevent further leakage.
If you experience the signs of central retinal vein occlusion, see an optometrist immediately. And get an eye test or click here for more info on your eye health.