Retinal Artery

Monday, September 6, 2010

The retinal artery (or central retinal artery) is an oxygenated blood vessel which branches off the ophthalmic artery, running inferior to the optic nerve within its dural sheath to the eyeball. After penetrating the optic nerve close to the eyeball, the retinal artery sends branches over the internal surface of the retina. These terminal branches supplied the retina with nutrients and oxigen. However, the fovea and a small area surrounding it are not supplied by the central retinal artery or its branches, but instead by the choroid.

The retinal artery also supplies all the nerve fibers that form the optic nerve that carries the visual information to the occipital lobe cerebral cortex, including those that reach over the fovea. If the central retinal artery gets occluded, there is complete loss of vision in that eye even though the fovea is not affected. The entire retina, with the exception of the fovea, becomes pale and swollen and opaque while the central fovea still appears reddish due to the choroid color that shows through.