In this cross-sectional study, the authors evaluated 197 patients diagnosed with central retinal vein occlusion (CRVO) at the Wilmer Ophthalmological Institute between 1980 and 1985 to determine the risk of systemic disease and mortality. Complete follow-up information for mortality was obtained in 191 (97%). National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) patients and Wilmer cataract patients formed two comparison groups. The prevalence of hypertension was significantly elevated in the CRVO cases when compared with both comparison groups (P less than 0.03, 0.005). The prevalence of diabetes mellitus was increased in CRVO cases in comparison with the NHIS group (P less than 0.005). The prevalence of cerebrovascular or cardiovascular disease was the same for all three groups, as was overall mortality. Mortality was not increased in CRVO cases as compared with United States mortality rates.