What Is Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVOQ)?

Arteries and veins transport blood throughout your body, this includes your eyes. The eye’s retina has one major artery and one major vein. When branches of the retinal vein become blocked, it is referred to as a branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO).
When the vein is blocked, blood and fluid oozes out into the retina. The macula can swell from this fluid, hurting your central vision. Eventually, without blood circulation, nerve cells in the eye can die and you can lose more sight.

What are the symptoms of BRVO?

The most apparent symptom of BRVO is vision loss or blurry vision in part or all of one eye. It can happen rapidly or worsen over hours or days. Sometimes, you can lose all vision all at once. You may notice floaters. These are black spots, lines or squiggles in your vision. These are shadows from tiny clumps of blood seeping into the vitreous from retinal vessels.
BRVO almost always happens only in a single eye.

What causes BRVO?

Many times doctors don’t know what causes the blockage in BRVO. Sometimes it can happen when disease makes the walls of your arteries thicker and harder. Those arteries can cross over and put pressure on a vein.

Who is at risk for BRVO?

BRVO usually happens in people who are aged 50 and older.
People who have the following health problems have a greater risk of BRVO:
high blood pressure diabetes glaucoma
hardening of the arteries (called arteriosclerosis)

How is BRVO diagnosed?

Your doctor will widen (dilate) your pupils with eye drops and observe your retina.
They may do a test called fluorescein angiography. Yellow dye (called fluorescein) is inserted into a vein, usually in your arm. The dye travels through your blood vessels. A specific camera takes photos of your retina as the dye travels throughout the vessels. This test indicates if any retinal blood vessels are being blocked.
Also, your blood sugar and cholesterol levels may be tested.
People under the age of 40 with BRVO may be tested to look for an issue with their blood clotting or thickening.

How is BRVO treated?

BRVO cannot be cured. The main goal of treatment is to keep your sight stable. This is normally done by sealing off any leaking blood vessels in the retina. This helps stop further swelling of the macula.
Your ophthalmologist will most likely do a form of laser surgery called focal laser treatment. A laser is used to make small burns to regions around the macula. This helps stop fluid from seeping from the vessels.
Your ophthalmologist may also choose to treat your BRVO with medication injections in the eye. The medicine can aide with reducing the swelling of the macula.
It usually takes a couple months before you notice your vision improving after treatment. While most individuals see some improvement in their vision, some people won’t have any 
Improvement.

To lower your risk for BRVO, you should do the following:

  • eat a low-fat diet
  • get regular exercise
  • maintain an ideal weight 
  • don’t smoke

Summary

Branch retinal vein occlusion (BRVO) is when a vein in your retina is blocked. The retina, including the macula, will swell, causing vision loss. Often the cause of BRVO isn’t found. Sometimes it is caused by problems from hardening of the arteries.

The blockage from BRVO cannot be removed. Instead, treatment aims to keep vision stable. Your ophthalmologist may do laser surgery of the retina or medication injections in the eye. These treatments are done to prevent swelling of the macula, hopefully improving vision.