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Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion

Branch Retinal Vein Occlusion (BRVO) occurs when branches of the retinal vein become blocked. When any one of the branches of the central retinal vein is blocked, blood circulation through the affected vein is halted or reduced. This can cause macular edema, or an excessive accumulation of fluid in the retinal tissue, which can cause blurry or distorted vision.


The most common symptom of BRVO is vision loss or blurry vision in part or all of one eye. Vision complications can happen suddenly or become worse over several hours or days.

Other symptoms include floaters which can appear as dark spots or lines in the vision.

Causes and Associations

BRVO is more common in patients with:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Glaucoma
  • History of smoking

In some cases, no underlying cause is found. About one-quarter of patients with BRVO experience gradual spontaneous improvement in vision, but in others, the vision does not improve or even worsens.


A comprehensive eye examination is important to assess BRVO, including vision testing, eye drops to dilate the pupils, and a complete examination of the front and back of the eye. It is best if a driver accompanies the patient during their eye exam as pupillary dilation may create near-vision blurring.

People with BRVO may have several types of tests in evaluating their condition including:


The only known way to improve vision is to treat the associated macular edema with laser or intravitreal injection. Most patients notice some improvement in vision with treatment.

Intravitreal Injections

Intravitreal injections are used to treat many retinal conditions. With this treatment, anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitors or steroids are injected directly into the eye. This procedure is performed in the office and requires only a local anesthetic. Intravitreal injections may be administered as frequently as once a month (depending on the condition being treated) in order to maintain eye health and optimize vision.

Laser Photocoagulation

Laser photocoagulation is performed in the office setting. A laser delivers a split-second burst of intense light energy to treat leaky retinal blood vessels or promote the shrinkage of abnormal blood vessels. If there is too much bleeding in the retina, laser photocoagulation cannot be performed.

Regular monitoring after the initial diagnosis of BRVO is crucial since further blood vessel complications can be identified and treated to help lower the risk of vision loss. Underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure require treatment in order to lower the risk of another retinal vein occlusion.

If you have any signs or symptoms of BRVO, contact us today to meet with a Mid Atlantic Retina specialist. Our team can work with you to protect your vision and minimize your complications.