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Learning About Retinal Vein Occlusion

What is retinal vein occlusion?

The retina is the part of your eye that senses light so you can see. Retinal vein occlusion is a blood clot in a vein in the retina that blocks the flow of blood.

When this happens, doctors say the vein is "occluded." And this can damage nerve cells that help you see. Or the vein may leak, causing swelling.

There is no pain. But most people have blurry vision off and on. Or you may have a sudden loss of vision in that eye. Sometimes people get their vision back, but it often isn't as good as it used to be.

How can you prevent it?

The same healthy lifestyle steps that help prevent other blood vessel diseases may help prevent this eye problem too.

  • Lower your blood pressure if it's high. High blood pressure increases the risk for retinal vein occlusion. Talk with your doctor about your best options for lowering your blood pressure.
  • Do not smoke or allow others to smoke around you. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor about stop-smoking programs and medicines. These can increase your chances of quitting for good. Smoking makes a stroke more likely.
  • Lose weight if you need to. A healthy weight will help you keep your heart and body healthy.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, and high-fibre foods.

How is retinal vein occlusion treated?

Injecting medicine into the eye often helps improve vision. Laser treatment is sometimes used.

Treatment to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol can help prevent retinal vein occlusion from happening again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

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