The pathogeneses, clinical features, and management of central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) are discussed. CRAO consists of the following four distinct clinical entities: non-arteritic CRAO (NA-CRAO), transient NA-CRAO, NA-CRAO with cilioretinal artery sparing, and arteritic CRAO. Clinical characteristics, visual outcome, and management very much depend upon the type of CRAO. Contrary to the prevalent belief, spontaneous improvement in both visual acuity and visual fields does occur, mainly during the first 7 days. The incidence of spontaneous visual acuity improvement during the first 7 days differs significantly (P < 0.001) among the four types of CRAO; among them, in eyes with initial visual acuity of counting finger or worse, visual acuity improved, remained stable, or deteriorated in NA-CRAO in 22%, 66%, and 12%, respectively; in NA-CRAO with cilioretinal artery sparing in 67%, 33%, and none, respectively; and in transient NA-CRAO in 82%, 18%, and none, respectively. Arteritic CRAO shows no change. Recent studies have shown that administration of local intra-arterial thrombolytic agent not only has no beneficial effect but also can be harmful. Investigations to find the cause and to prevent or reduce the risk of any further visual problems are discussed. Prevalent multiple misconceptions on CRAO are discussed.
Keywords: Central retinal artery occlusion; retinal arteries; retinal artery occlusion; retinal vessels.