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Branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO)

When the retina becomes blocked, it's often due to a condition called Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion, or BRVO. BRVO effectively blocks retinal veins; the retina itself is comprised of a layer of cells at the back of the eye that are responsible for sensing light.

BRVO Explained

Someone suffering from BRVO will suffer a loss of central vision if the retinal veins blocked are those that nourish, or help to nourish, the macula. The macula is the part of the retina that’s responsible for central vision, so if those veins are blocked, often straight-ahead vision is lost.

About 60% of people who suffer from this condition will also suffer central macular vision area swelling. This edema (swelling) will last for about a year in about a third of those people.

People who suffer from BRVO will suffer from a progressive vision loss. Vision will become distorted or even misty.

In some cases, the veins cover a broad area and new abnormal vessels will grow on the surface of the retina, which can ultimately bleed into the eye. This can cause the sufferer to experience blurred vision.

BRVO Treatment

While there is currently no known cure for BRVO, there are some things your eye care professional can do:

First, it’s important for the doctor to discover what caused a blockage in the first place.

Your doctor might initially recommend a period of time where the condition is under observation, since many times excess fluid and hemorrhages will subside on their own.

Laser surgery can often be helpful, though much depends on how damaged the nerves are. Surgery can help to improve vision and reduce the swelling in the eye. Laser surgery can also help to shrink the abnormal new blood vessels that could bleed.

A procedure called Intravitreal Kenalog has in the past been successful in reducing bleeding or swelling from original vein occlusion. It’s common after this procedure for there to be significant improvement to vision.

BRVO Follow-Up Treatments

If you have BRVO, you should visit your doctor regularly to protect your vision. He or she will examine the eye carefully to assure that additional damage isn’t occurring and will map a course of treatment that’s best of your condition.

Even if your vision is initially improved, it will be checked regularly to ensure that the vision loss doesn’t return. Your doctor will also check you to be sure you don’t have any late complications of the disorder, such as neovascularization or mascular edem a. There’s also the possibility that a second edema can develop in the other eye as a result of BRVO.