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Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVO)

A condition associated with high blood pressure

Condition


Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVO) is a blockage of one of the small veins (venules) in the retina and poses significant risks to vision.  The arteries and veins in the retina share a common sheath where they cross each other.  With time, the arteries become less like a garden hose and more like a lead pipe.  This causes the artery to flatten the vein, thus stopping the flow of blood causing swelling and bleeding in the retina leading to decreased vision.

Risk factors


The main risk factors are high blood pressure, smoking, and high cholesterol which lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Symptoms


The symptom of a BRVO is an acute, painless change in your vision.  You may notice decreased, misty, blurred, or distorted vision.

Treatment


The mainstay of treatment is injections of medicine into the eye which have been proven to decrease swelling and improve vision.  Careful observation is required as neovascularization (new leaky blood vessels) can form leading to decreased vision from swelling, vitreous hemorrhage, glaucoma, or tractional retinal detachment.  Laser is sometimes employed to decrease the risk of neovascularization.  Working with your primary care physician to treat the risk factors is also very important not only for the health of your eyes but also for your overall health.

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