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October 1996

Prevalence and Associations of Retinal Vein Occlusion in Australia: The Blue Mountains Eye Study

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (Drs Mitchell and Chang), and the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra (Dr Smith).

Arch Ophthalmol. 1996;114(10):1243-1247. doi:10.1001/archopht.1996.01100140443012

Objective:  To determine the prevalence and associations of retinal vein occlusion (RVO) in a defined older Australian population.

Design:  Participants (N=3654; age, ≥49 years), representing 88% of the permanent residents from an area west of Sydney, Australia, underwent a detailed eye examination, including stereophotography (Zeiss). The diagnosis of RVO was made clinically and from photographic grading.

Results:  Signs of RVO were found in 59 participants (1.6%; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-1.9). The prevalence for each age-specific participant was as follows: 0.7%, younger than 60 years; 1.2%, 60 to 69 years; 2.1%, 70 to 79 years; and 4.6%, 80 years or older. There was no significant sex difference in prevalence. Branch RVO was observed in 41 subjects (69.5%); of this number, 10 subjects had branch RVO outside the vascular arcade or in the nasal fundus and 3 subjects developed new vessels. Hemispheric RVO was found in 3 subjects (5.1%), and central RVO was observed in 15 (25%); RVO was bilateral in 3 subjects (5.1%). Visual acuity was affected most in the people with central RVO, with a visual acuity of 20/200 or less in 60% compared with 14% among the people with branch RVO. Retinal vein occlusion was the fifth most frequent cause of unilateral blindness in this population. Significant associations with RVO were found with glaucoma, hypertension, stroke, and angina.

Conclusions:  This study emphasizes RVO as an important cause of unilateral visual loss in an older population. The proportion of the 3 vein occlusion sites shows some differences from those of clinic-based reports and suggests a likely selection bias in previous clinic studies.