The high prevalence of cardiovascular disease particularly in the elderly population is associated with retinal vascular disease. Retinal vein occlusions represent severe disturbances of the hypoxia-sensitive neurosensory retina. Acute and excessive leakage leads to the diagnostic hallmarks of retinal hemorrhage and edema with substantial retinal thickening. Advanced diagnostic tools such as OCT angiography allow to evaluate retinal ischemia and identify the risk for late complications and will soon reach clinical routine besides fluorescein angiography.
Accordingly, the duration of non-perfusion is a crucial prognostic factor requiring timely therapeutic intervention. With immediate inhibition of vascular leakage, anti-VEGF substances excel as treatment of choice. Multiple clinical trials with optimal potential for functional benefit or a lesser regenerative spectrum have evaluated aflibercept, ranibizumab, and bevacizumab.
As retinal vein occlusion is a chronic disease, long-term monitoring should be individualized to combine maintenance with practicability. While steroids may be considered in patients with systemic cardiovascular risk, surgery remains advisable only for very few patients. Destructive laser treatment is an option if reliable monitoring is not feasible.
Ophthalmologists are also advised to perform a basic systemic workup to recognize systemic concomitants. The current edition of the EURETINA guidelines highlights the state-of-the-art recommendations based on the literature and expert opinions in retinal vein occlusion.
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