Leader Heights Eye Center, 309 Leader Heights Road, York, PA 17402 • Phone: (717) 747-5430


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Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion



BRVO is a condition in which a vein in the retina, the layer of light-sensing cells at the back of the eye, becomes blocked. Blurred vision occurs because the part of the retina that is supplied by that vein functions poorly because of poor circulation. Vision is especially poor when the central retina, or “macula” is affected. The macula can be damaged via swelling (“edema”), loss of blood supply from capillaries (“ischemia”) or both.

BRVO is caused by hardening of the arteries. The mechanism is that where a retinal artery crosses a vein, the two vessels are tied together by a figure-8 band. If the artery becomes hard and stiff, it takes up more of its share of the figure-8, and the vein becomes choked-off. The risk factors for other forms of hardening of the arteries (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking) are risk factors for BRVO, too. High blood pressure is the most common condition associated with BRVO. Additionally, about 10% to 12% of the people who have BRVO also have glaucoma (high pressure in the eye).

BRVO causes a painless, usually sudden, decrease in vision.

Treatment for BRVO is usually injections of an anti-VEGF drug into the eye. This can reduce or prevent swelling of the macula. Sometimes, laser may also be required to help clear up the swelling.

Finding out what caused the blockage is the other important thing to do. Blood pressure, cholesterol levels, exercise and body weight are factors that are important to address. Hardening of the arteries causes strokes, heart attacks, and other problems.