Retinal Artery Occlusion

A retinal artery occlusion is a blockage of blood flow to the retina. In the same way that a heart attack or a stroke is a. blockage of blood flow to the heart or brain, a retinal artery occlusion results in inadequate circulation into the retina. This can cause severe, permanent vision loss since sensitive nerve tissue such as the retina requires a steady flow of oxygen and nutrients to stay alive. There are two main types of arterial occlusions – Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) and Branch retinal artery occlusion (BRAO). In most cases, no treatment has been proven to treat these conditions. However, there may be an underlying systemic medical condition such as a plaque dislocation from the carotid artery (large vessel in the neck) or an inflammatory disorder known as Giant Cell Arteritis (aka Temporal Arteritis). A full evaluation, medical work-up, and diagnosis is necessary to preserve as much vision as possible in the affected eye and to prevent an occlusion from occurring in the other eye. Occasionally, laser treatment is indicated for severely ischemic (oxygen deprived) arterial occlusions to prevent serious secondary complications.