Retinal Vein Occlusion May Increase Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Patients with retinal vein occlusion should be referred for cardiovascular exam as a precautionary measure.

Patients with retinal vein occlusion (RVO) had a 13% increased risk of incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) compared with unexposed individuals, according to findings published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology. 

Researchers conducted a study to evaluate overall and subtype-stratified risk of CVD and all-cause mortality following RVO and to assess any alterations after the introduction of angiostatic therapy in Denmark in 2011, following increased referrals for treatment of RVO. The nationwide, registry-based cohort study evaluated 4,194,781 individuals between 1998 and 2018. Outcome measures included hazard ratios (HRs), which were then subclassified as branch and central RVO. 

The cohort of today’s patients with RVO might be at higher risk of CVD than previously described.

The study included 15,665 patients with RVO whose median age was 71.8 years. It found that RVO was associated with incident CVD (adjusted HR 1.13), but not mortality (adjusted HR 1.0). For patients with branch and central RVO (adjusted HRs 1.14 and 1.12, respectively), similar risks of CVD were found. However, only patients with central RVO exhibited increased mortality (adjusted HR 1.12). Risk of CVD was higher for patients diagnosed after 2011, especially non-ischaemic patients (adjusted HRs 1.06 vs 1.15).

“The cohort of today’s patients with RVO might be at higher risk of CVD than previously described, encouraging clinicians to be continuously aware of cardiovascular evaluation of these patients,” the researchers explain.

Study limitations include its results likely not being generalizable outside the study population, and its lack of accounting for factors such as lifestyle, socioeconomic status, and genetic attributes.


Frederiksen KH, Stockholm L, Frederiksen PH, et al. Cardiovascular morbidity and all-cause mortality in patients with retinal vein occlusion: a Danish nationwide cohort study. Br J Ophthalmology. doi:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2022-321225