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Trans Am Ophthalmol Soc. 2000;98:133-41; discussion 141-3.

The epidemiology of retinal vein occlusion: the Beaver Dam Eye Study.

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Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, USA.



To describe the prevalence and the 5-year incidence of retinal central and branch vein occlusion and associated risk factors.


The Beaver Dam Eye Study (n = 4,926) is a population-based study in which retinal vein occlusions were detected at baseline (1988-1990) and at a 5-year follow-up examination (1993-1995) by grading of 30 degrees color fundus photographs.


The prevalence and 5-year incidence of retinal branch vein occlusion were each 0.6%. The prevalence of retinal central vein occlusion was 0.1%, and the 5-year incidence was 0.2%. While adjusting for age, the prevalence of branch vein occlusion was associated with hypertension (odds ratio [OR] 5.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.18, 13.47), diabetes mellitus (OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.04, 5.70), pulse pressure (OR 1.24 for 10 mm Hg, 95% CI 1.03, 1.48), ocular perfusion pressure (OR 2.09 for 10 mm Hg, 95% CI 1.45, 3.01), arteriovenous nicking (OR 16.75, 95% CI 7.33, 38.24), and focal arteriolar narrowing (OR 22.86, 95% CI 8.43, 62.03). The age-adjusted incidence of retinal branch vein occlusion was associated with current smoking (OR 4.43 95%, CI 1.53, 12.84) compared with nonsmokers and to focal arteriolar narrowing (OR 5.24, 95% CI 1.97, 13.94) at baseline. While controlling for age, the incidence of branch vein occlusion was not associated with serum lipid levels, body mass index, white blood cell count, alcohol consumption, aspirin use, glaucoma, intraocular pressure, or ocular hypertension.


Retinal vein occlusion is infrequent in the population. These data suggest a strong association between retinal branch vein occlusion and retinal arteriolar changes. Data from larger populations are needed to further assess associations between risk factors and the incidence of retinal vein occlusions.

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