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What is Retinal Vascular Disease?

Retinal vascular diseases, also called retinal vascular disorders include eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, hypertensive retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO), and retinal artery occlusion (RAO). These disorders are caused due to a defect in the blood vessels in your eye which include the arteries, capillaries, and veins.

Retinal vascular diseases create vision loss due to:

  • Blockage or rupture of the blood vessel or,
  • Leakage of the fluid from the damaged/swollen retinal blood vessels

Retinal vascular diseases require treatment to prevent permanent blindness.

What are the Causes of Retinal Vascular Diseases?

Retinal vascular diseases are caused due to thickening of the artery walls due to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia).

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Retinal Vascular Diseases?

The commons signs and symptoms of retinal vascular diseases include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of vision
  • Headache in people with hypertension

How is Retinal Vascular Disease Diagnosed?

Your eye specialist/ophthalmologist will perform a dilated eye exam using special eye drops that are used to dilate your eye and view the retina. This helps assess the complete health of your eye.

Other diagnostic tests may include:

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan: In this test, light waves are used to obtain detailed images of the retina.

Fluorescein angiogram: In this test, a dye called fluorescein is injected into a vein, usually in your arm. The dye travels the bloodstream and reaches your eye and makes it appear brighter. At this stage, the images of the retina are taken using a special camera.

This test is performed if there is damage to the surrounding blood vessels.

Ocular ultrasound: In this test, high-frequency sound waves are used to obtain images of the retina.

What are the Treatments Available for Retinal Vascular Diseases?

Retinal vascular diseases can be treated through the identification and management of the root cause. Depending on the cause of retinal vascular disease, your doctor may utilize any of the given approaches to restore your vision.

Medications: You are given medications to reduce the intraocular pressure (fluid pressure) inside your eye.

Injections: People diagnosed with a swollen macula may be administered an intraocular steroid injection or an injection of an anti-vascular endothelial growth (anti-VEGF) factor to reduce macular edema and improve vision.

Laser: Laser therapy can be utilized for those people who have severe retinal vein or retinal artery occlusion, advanced diabetic retinopathy, or growth of new blood vessels within the eye.

Surgery/Vitrectomy: In this surgery, the vitreous fluid is removed from the eye, to gain better access to the retina. Any retinal detachment, macular holes, or scar tissue is treated through this surgery.

Complications following Retinal Vascular Disease Treatment

The treatment for retinal vascular diseases may have the following risks and complications such as:

  • Infection
  • Eye pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Light sensitivity
  • Loss of vision
  • Elevated intraocular pressure

Recovery and Management of Retinal Vascular Diseases

The quality of life after retinal vascular disease treatment depends on the severity of the disease and your lifestyle. You should follow a healthy routine that includes a proper diet and regular exercise. It is important to consult your doctor periodically for a follow-up assessment of your eyes.

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