Retinal vascular occlusion is a blockage of the flow of blood to or from the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer of tissue lining the back of the eye. Retinal artery occlusion occurs when one of the arteries (either the main artery or one of its small branches) carrying blood to the retina becomes blocked; retinal vein occlusion occurs when one of the veins carrying blood and waste away from the retina becomes blocked.

When one of the vessels carrying blood to or from the retina becomes blocked, the retina is not able to properly do its job and as a result, a sudden loss of vision can occur. The extent of the vision loss depends on where the blockage or clot occurs.

Common Symptoms

Retinal vascular occlusion is most often marked by a sudden change in vision in a single eye. It could be a partial or complete loss of vision. Other symptoms include blurry or distorted vision. Vascular occlusion normally does not cause pain.

In some cases, the loss of vision due to retinal artery occlusion is preceded by a temporary episode of decreased vision, which some describe as a grayish curtain closing on one eye.

Vision loss due to retinal vein occlusion usually develops slowly over the period of several days or weeks as opposed to suddenly.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of vascular occlusion, please contact California Retina Associates to schedule an appointment today. Appointments can also be scheduled by calling our San Diego-area offices at (619) 425-7755 or (760) 352-7755.

Causes of Vascular Occlusion

Vascular occlusion occurs when retinal veins or arteries become blocked. The exact cause of this condition is not always known, but there are factors that can increase your risks including:

  • Tobacco use
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems
  • Intravenous drug use

Vascular occlusion may also be linked to other eye disorders and diseases such as macular edema and glaucoma.

As with many eye conditions, you can reduce your risks for vascular occlusion or help prevent additional complications by not smoking. Likewise, maintaining a healthy diet and keeping medical conditions under control with the proper medication or therapy will help reduce your risks for this and many other serious vision problems. Our San Diego vascular occlusion experts can discuss this with you in greater detail during your treatment consultation.

Treating the Symptoms of Vascular Occlusion

It is not always necessary to treat vascular occlusion, although your vision will likely not return to normal without treatment. Depending on your specific problem and needs, our eye doctors may recommend medications or laser therapy to break up clots and help restore vision. However, even with treatment, a full restoration of vision is not guaranteed. During your retinal examination we will discuss all of your options and help you better understand what you can realistically expect following treatment.

To learn more about treatment options for vascular occlusion, please contact our San Diego retina specialists today. We serve patients living in San Diego and surrounding communities from several conveniently located offices.