Retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is an eye condition that commonly affects people over the age of 60. It happens when there is a blockage in a vein supplying a part of the eye called the retina. This causes a sudden, painless loss of vision.1

There are two types of RVO, depending on which vein is affected: branch RVO and central RVO. Generally, central RVO causes more severe vision loss.2

The exact cause of RVO is unknown, but there are a number of factors that make the condition more likely. These include1:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Certain rare blood disorders

It’s important to detect RVO as early as possible so the appropriate treatment can be started. You should tell your doctor immediately if you notice any changes in your vision.

Where can I find more information on RVO?

The following organisations are sources for support, advice and information.

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
Support, advice and information for those living with sight loss
Helpline: 0303 123 9999
Mon–Fri 8am–8pm, Sat 9am–5pm

The Macular Society
Advice and support, including free confidential counselling, for people with macular degeneration
Helpline: 0300 303 0111
Mon–Fri 9am–5pm

Age UK
Support services, including day centres, befriending schemes and transport, for older people in the UK
Helpline: 0800 678 1602
Mon–Sun 8am–7pm



  1. Moorfields Eye Hospital. Retinal vein occlusion. Available at: [Accessed June 2020].
  2. Macular Society. Retinal vein occlusion. Available at: [Accessed June 2020].
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OPT20-C039f September 2020.

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