5 Things You Need To Know About Retinal Neovascularization

Your retina is a tissue at the very back of your eye that is responsible for sending light and images to your brain. Without your retina, you can't see, so problems with the retina are always a major concern. Retinal neovascularization is one of these problems. Here's what you need to know about it. 

What is retinal neovascularization?

Like every other tissue in your body, the retina needs blood to survive. If the retina isn't getting enough blood flow, it reacts by creating more blood vessels. It makes these blood vessels quickly, so they're not very well made. The new vessels will leak blood into your eye with minimal trauma (like a sneeze), and sometimes they leak with no provocation. 

How do you know you have it?

The leaking blood vessels are deep in the back of your eye, so your eye will look completely normal when you look in the mirror. As more blood leaks from the veins, your vision may become blurry. If you notice any changes in your vision, you need to see your optometrist right away. 

What causes retinal neovascularization?

Retinal neovascularization occurs when the retina isn't getting enough blood flow from the veins it already has, but this can happen for many different reasons. Many other medical conditions cause the retina to receive decreased blood flow, such as diabetes and sickle cell disease. Exposure to radiation can also cause neovascularization, so cancer patients also need to worry about this condition.

It can also be caused by blood clots in the veins near the retinas. These clots can be caused by high blood pressure, glaucoma, or heart disease. 

​Is it common?

Few studies have been done about retinal neovascularization, so its exact prevalence still isn't known. One study found that 18.2% of people who had a blood clot near their retina later went on to develop retinal neovascularization. 

Can it be treated?

There are a few different treatments for retinal neovascularization. An ophthalmologist can inject a medication called bevacizumab into your vitreous, which is the jelly-like filling inside your eye. It works by stopping the growth of new blood vessels on the retina. Laser photocoagulation is another treatment that is used. The ophthalmologist will use the heat from a laser to burn your new blood vessels and seal them.

Retinal neovascularization is a very serious eye problem that can destroy your vision, but fortunately, an ophthalmologist, like those at Blink Eyewear, can treat it.