Retinal vein occlusions are divided into both branch and central retinal vein occlusions.  Branch retinal vein occlusions can involve a small or fairly large area of the retina.  Essentially, the venous outflow from the retina is blocked.  The blockage is generally felt to be a clot type of material.  This causes bleeding in the retina and a reduction in vision from blood or from swelling in the retina in the center of vision in the macula.

The treatment for branch retinal vein occlusions depends on whether or not the vein occlusion is ischemic (meaning the capillaries have dropped out) or non-ischemic (meaning capillaries persist), and whether or not the center of vision, the macula, has swollen.  If the center of vision has swollen, then the eye can be treated with injections of anti-VEGF drug.  If however, the eye is ischemic with capillaries that have been lost, then often laser can be used to treat at least the ischemic part of the branch vein occlusion.

Branch retinal vein occlusions often are associated with other types of systemic problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.  Therefore, it is important in people with branch retinal vein occlusions to have a systemic evaluation to make sure that issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes are being taken care of.  There are other issues that also can contribute to vein occlusions, such as medications or a hypercoaguable state in the circulation and these also require an evaluation to see if therapy might be adjusted in those situations.

Branch retinal vein occlusions can result in reduced center visual acuity, but certainly treatment is better today than treatment has been in the past.