11th July, 20212 min read

What is central retinal vein occlusion?

Medical reviewer:
Dr Ann Nainan
Dr Ann Nainan
Dr Adiele Hoffman
Dr Adiele Hoffman
Last reviewed: 12/07/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

In this article

What is central retinal vein occlusion?

Retinal veins are tiny tubes that drain blood from the back of your eye (retina). When the main retinal vein that drains blood from your retina gets blocked, it’s known as a central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO). Central retinal vein occlusion can cause blood and fluid to leak out into the back of your eye, leading to bruising, swelling and sudden loss of vision in the affected eye.

It’s also possible to have a different type of retinal vein occlusion, known as a branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO). This is caused by a blockage of 1 of 4 branch retinal veins that each drain a different part of your retina.

Some lifestyle choices or medical conditions may increase your risk of retinal vein occlusion. These choices and conditions include:

What are the symptoms of central retinal vein occlusion?

Central retinal vein occlusion can cause blurred vision or no vision at all in your eye. It usually doesn’t cause pain and typically affects just 1 eye. It can often start when you wake up in the morning.

It usually happens suddenly, but it can occasionally develop gradually. It mostly affects people over the age of 50.

What is the treatment for central retinal vein occlusion?

If you’ve lost vision in your eye, go to an emergency department urgently. If you have central retinal vein occlusion, you will usually be seen immediately by an eye specialist (an ophthalmologist).

Treatment for central retinal vein occlusion may include:

  • injections into your eye to stop blood and fluid from leaking out. These may be of anti- vascular endothelial growth factor (anti-VEGF) medicines or steroids
  • laser treatment to reduce the swelling at the back of your eye or to help improve your vision

If you have central retinal vein occlusion that’s caused by another medical condition, a doctor will also treat this to prevent it from happening again.

Was this article helpful?

We include references at the end of every article, so you know where we get our facts. We only ever take evidence from medically-recognised sources, approved by the UK National Health Service's The Information Standard, or certified by Health On the Net (HON). When we talk about popular health trends or claims, we'll always tell you if there's very little or no evidence to back them up. Our medical team also checks our sources, making sure they're appropriate and that we've interpreted the science correctly.

Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.