Overview

Rubeosis is a term that describes abnormal blood vessel growth on the iris and the structures in the front of the eye.  Normally there are no visible blood vessels in these areas.

When the retina has been deprived of oxygen, or ischemic, as with diabetic retinopathy or vein occlusion, abnormal vessels form to supply oxygen to the eye.  Unfortunately, the formation of these vessels obstructs the drainage of aqueous fluid from the front of the eye, causing the eye pressure to become elevated.  This usually leads to neovascular glaucoma.

Signs and Symptoms

Patients’ primary symptom associated with rubeosis is a gradual loss of peripheral vision related to the secondary problem of glaucoma.  Rubeosis is usually undetectable with the naked eye.

Detection and Diagnosis

The doctor can diagnose rubeosis with a slit lamp microscope.  Often, a special mirrored gonioscopy lens is used to examine the blood vessel growth in the front of the eye.

Treatment

The primary concern with rubeosis is the treatment of the secondary problem of glaucoma.  It is often difficult however, to control the intraocular pressure with this type of glaucoma.  Both medical and surgical treatment are often required.