What is a Retinal Artery Occlusion?

A retinal artery occlusion is the blockage (mostly due to clots or narrowing) of an artery in the retina. Arteries carry blood away from the heart thus the occlusion or obstruction of a retinal artery can effectively lead to a stroke that affects the eye. There are two types or retinal artery occlusions:

  • Branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO) occurs when a smaller branch of the main artery in the retina is blocked.
  • Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) occurs when there is a blockage in the main artery in the retina.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptom of a retinal artery occlusion is sudden, painless loss of vision. It can affect all of one eye in the case of CRAO, or it can affect part of one eye, in the case of BRAO.

Who is at risk?

Retinal artery occlusions are more common in:

  • People over 65 years of age
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • People who smoke

How is the condition diagnosed?

Dr Hilford will undertake a dilated examination of your eyes and tests such as optical coherence tomography (OCT) and/or fluorescein angiography will be required.

What are the treatment options?

Unfortunately usually there is no definitive treatment for a retinal artery occlusion, but it is important to manage risk factors to prevent further potential occlusions.