Purpose: To determine the cause, associated factors, visual results, and systemic morbidity in patients less than 40 years old with retinal arterial occlusions.
Methods: We studied 27 eyes with nontraumatic retinal arterial occlusions in 21 patients less than 40 years old (range, 22 to 38 years; mean, 28 years).
Results: Of the 21 patients, branch retinal artery (arteriolar) occlusion occurred in 15 (71%), central retinal artery occlusion occurred in five (24%), and cilioretinal artery occlusion occurred in one (5%). Retinal artery occlusions were bilateral in six patients (29%) and occurred in 14 women (67%). Emboli were identifiable in seven patients (33%). Cardiac valvular disease was the most commonly recognized etiologic agent and was present in four patients (19%). Various associated factors leading to a hypercoagulable state or embolic condition were identified in 19 patients (91%).
Conclusion: Retinal arterial occlusions in young adults occur via multiple mechanisms. Systemic evaluation allows detection of a risk factor for retinal arterial occlusive disease in most patients.