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Retinal Vein Occlusions


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A retinal vein occlusion or “eye stroke” happens when a blood clot blocks a vein in your retina. The retina is vital to eyesight – blockages can cause permanent blindness. This retinal vascular disease occurs more often in older patients with high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Other causes include narrow veins, vasculitis, clotting disorders, diabetes, other eye conditions, and medications such as birth control pills.

The condition occurs in two ways:

  • Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion: When one segment of the main retinal vein is blocked, only a portion of your retina is damaged.
  • Central Retinal Vein Occlusion: When the main retinal vein becomes blocked, your entire retina is damaged.

What Are the Symptoms?

Initially, you may experience blurriness or slight vision loss, with your eyesight worsening over time. Some people experience complete loss of vision almost immediately. If the blockage isn’t severe, you may retain some vision or may regain your vision.

Blockages cannot be removed, so treatment focuses on managing issues caused by the condition. The retinal specialists at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, part of the University of Miami Health System, expertly manage this serious eye condition.


Comprehensive Exam - Your doctor will conduct a thorough physical examination of your eyes – as well as gather a complete health history – to help determine if you have ischemic optic neuropathy.

Blood Test - Your doctor may order a blood test since certain elements in the blood can indicate if you have a neuropathy.

Biopsy - If your specialist suspects you may have ischemic optic neuropathy, they may order a temporal artery biopsy. In this procedure, a small tissue sample (biopsy) is removed and examined closely in the lab to help make the diagnosis.

Imaging - Your doctor may order you under computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to make sure you don’t have compressive lesions that could be causing your vision loss.

Blood Pressure Monitoring - If you’re experiencing vision loss upon awakening, your doctor may recommend your blood pressure be monitored 24 hours a day, for a period of time, to make sure hypertension (high blood pressure) isn’t causing your vision loss.


Ophthalmologists at Bascom Palmer accurately diagnose this condition through a dilated eye examination. If necessary, one or more of the following tests/procedures may be used to confirm the diagnosis:

Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) - Using a scanning ophthalmoscope, the OCT method produces a high definition image of your retina.

Ophthalmoscopy - By using an ophthalmoscope – a magnifying tool with a light source – your doctor examines your retina and other structures inside your eye.

Fluorescein Angiography - This test shows changes in the structure or function of retinal blood vessels. In this procedure, your eye care professional injects dye into a vein in your arm or hand, then photographs your retina as the dye outlines your blood vessels.

Controlling blood pressure helps prevent retinal blood clots and preserves your sight.

Why Choose Bascom Palmer Eye Institute?

Number One in the Nation for Eye Care. Recognized as one of the world’s most progressive centers for ophthalmic care, research, and education, Bascom Palmer ranks #1 in America for vision care.

Renowned Specialists. The first generation of vitreoretinal surgeons trained at Bascom Palmer and we pioneered fluorescein angiography for diagnosing retinal diseases. People with retinal conditions trust us for the best eye care.

Patient-Friendly Care. When your vision is threatened, you need expertise and compassion. Our ophthalmologists pride themselves on treating each patient as an individual, with unique health needs and concerns.

Truly Comprehensive Care. Eye care isn’t one size fits all, especially if your condition is serious. Our multidisciplinary experts treat multiple eye disorders and address underlying health issues that may be causing your condition.

Research-based Medicine. Recent retinal imaging research has advanced our understanding of occlusions. National clinical studies are determining the most effective combination of laser therapy and injections for treating this disorder. Our eye care team keeps pace with these advances.

State-of-the-Art Imaging. Effective treatment begins with accurate diagnosis. Bascom Palmer pioneered retinal diagnostic methods that allow your physician to quickly diagnose your condition.

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