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BRVO Explained

Within the back of your eye, there is a network of tightly woven cells and blood vessels that form a barrier to control substances entering or leaving your retina. The retina is where all of the images you see are recorded – it acts like the film in a camera.

BRVO is a condition where one or more branches of the blood vessels (veins) that transport blood away from the retina may be blocked. Fluid may then leak through these vessels, causing swelling. The macula is the part of the retina responsible for central and fine vision. When the macula swells with fluid, central vision becomes blurry.

The diagram below shows which areas of the eye are affected by BRVO.

In many people with BRVO, a specific cause can’t be determined but it often happens as a consequence of other conditions like glaucoma (raised eye pressure), hypertension (high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) or diabetes.

Other things that can increase your risk of developing BRVO, or make it worse are ‘lifestyle’ factors including smoking, not exercising and being overweight. Quitting smoking greatly lowers the risk of damage to your eyes as well as improving your general health. If you are overweight, losing weight and eating healthily may also help protect your eyesight. Your GP can help you with quitting smoking and losing weight.

Remember: it is important to follow your eye doctor’s advice and to make sure you keep all of your appointments with your doctor, whether for treatment or check-ups.

There are several treatment options for BRVO and they work in different ways.

Generally, these treatments work by shrinking and sealing up the leaking blood vessels and treatments can involve injections or laser therapy.

Since no two people are alike, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Your doctor will choose a treatment best-suited for your individual needs.

Being diagnosed with visual impairment due to macular oedema secondary to BRVO and experiencing problems with your eyesight can be an anxious time. It is normal to worry and feel uncertain about your future, but your diagnosis doesn’t mean you can no longer live a full life. You can continue to enjoy family, friends and interests with some small changes.

Some helpful advice includes:

  • Tell friends and family that you have BRVO and how it affects your eyesight
  • Use brighter lighting
  • Organise your surroundings so it is easier to find things
  • Use torches and magnifying lenses when needed. Take them with you when you go out
  • Read large-print books and newspapers and try audio books or computers with large-print settings

For more helpful tips on living with BRVO, please see the information on support groups.

However much you are affected by BRVO, it is important to remember that you are not alone. It may be difficult to understand your diagnosis or to come to terms with it. Speaking to experts can help answer questions you may have, while speaking to others who are in, or have been in, a similar situation to yourself can help you come to terms with your diagnosis.

If you would like to find out more, or be put in touch with other people suffering from BRVO, a list of useful contacts can be found below. You can write to these organisations, phone them or go to their websites. These organisations will have downloadable files of information which can be printed or read on the screen. They may also be able to provide their information in audio format for you to listen to.

www.macularsociety.org

www.rnib.org.uk

EYLEA is a type of treatment known as an anti-VEGF. This is an abbreviation for anti-vascular endothelial growth factor, which is a description of how EYLEA works to protect your vision.

EYLEA blocks a particular protein that causes development of new weaker blood vessels in your eye. This can help prevent leakage of fluid from these new blood vessels, protecting your vision.

EYLEA is a solution (a liquid) that is injected into the eye.

While it is understandable to worry about an injection, your doctor will make sure the surface of your eye is numb so you should feel no more than a little pressure during the procedure.

However much you are affected by BRVO, it is important to remember that you are not alone. It may be difficult to understand your diagnosis or to come to terms with it. Speaking to experts can help answer questions you may have, while speaking to others who are in, or have been in, a similar situation to yourself can help you come to terms with your diagnosis.

If you would like to find out more, or be put in touch with other people suffering from BRVO, a list of useful contacts can be found below. You can write to these organisations, phone them or go to their websites. These organisations will have downloadable files of information which can be printed or read on the screen. They may also be able to provide their information in audio format for you to listen to.

Helpline: 0300 3030 111
Address: The Macular Society, PO Box 1870, Andover SP10 9AD
Email: info@macularsociety.org
Website: www.macularsociety.org

Telephone: 0303 123 9999
Address: RNIB Headquarters, 105 Judd Street, London WC1H 9NE
Email: helpline@rnib.org.uk
Website: www.rnib.org.uk