Central Retinal Vein Occlusion (CRVO) is a significant retinal vascular disorder characterized by the blockage of the main vein responsible for draining blood from the retina. This condition can lead to sudden, painless vision loss and is a major cause of visual impairment, particularly in older adults.

CRVO occurs when the central retinal vein, which exits the eye through the optic nerve, becomes obstructed. This blockage is often due to a thrombus (blood clot) and can be influenced by several factors, including vessel damage, venous stasis, and hypercoagulability, collectively known as Virchow’s triad. The central retinal artery and vein share a common adventitial sheath, and atherosclerotic changes in the artery can compress the vein, leading to CRVO.

Types of CRVO

CRVO is classified into two main types: non-ischemic (perfused) and ischemic (non-perfused).

Non-ischemic CRVO is more common, accounting for about 70% of cases, and typically presents with milder symptoms and a better visual prognosis. Ischemic CRVO, on the other hand, is more severe and can lead to significant complications such as neovascular glaucoma and severe vision loss.

Risk Factors

Several risk factors are associated with the development of CRVO. These include age (most patients are over 50), systemic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, and glaucoma. Other factors include smoking and certain blood disorders.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

A significant number of individuals with CRVO experience blurred vision. In cases of very mild CRVO, symptoms may be absent. However, if the condition is more severe, you might encounter pain or redness in the affected eye. It is crucial to consult an eye specialist promptly if you observe any of these symptoms, regardless of their severity.

Diagnosis of CRVO involves a comprehensive eye examination, including funduscopy, which reveals retinal hemorrhages, dilated and tortuous veins, and macular edema. Additional diagnostic tools include optical coherence tomography (OCT) to assess macular edema and fluorescein angiography to evaluate retinal perfusion and capillary non-perfusion.

Treatment and Management

The primary treatment for macular edema associated with CRVO is intravitreal injections of anti-VEGF (vascular endothelial growth factor) agents and steroid medicine. These treatments help reduce macular swelling and improve visual acuity.

In cases of neovascularization, panretinal photocoagulation (PRP) is recommended to prevent further complications such as neovascular glaucoma. PRP involves using a laser to create burns in the peripheral retina, reducing the risk of new, abnormal blood vessel growth.

For patients with severe CRVO, corticosteroid implants like dexamethasone (Ozurdex) may be used to reduce inflammation and macular edema. However, these treatments carry a higher risk of adverse effects, including increased intraocular pressure and cataract formation.


CRVO tends to have a more favorable prognosis in younger individuals. In contrast, among older patients who do not receive treatment, approximately one-third experience spontaneous improvement, another third have fluctuating symptoms with no significant change, and the remaining third see a deterioration in their condition.


Central Retinal Vein Occlusion is a serious condition that requires prompt diagnosis and management to prevent significant vision loss. Regular monitoring by your ophthalmologist and management of underlying risk factors are crucial in preventing the progression and recurrence of CRVO.