Central retinal vein

The central retinal vein (retinal vein) is a short vein that runs through the optic nerve, leaves the optic nerve 10 mm from the eyeball and drains blood from the capillaries of the retina into either superior ophthalmic vein or into the cavernous sinus directly. The anatomy of the veins of the orbit of the eye varies between individuals, and in some the central retinal vein drains into the superior ophthalmic vein, and in some it drains directly into the cavernous sinus.[1][2]

Central retinal vein
Veins of orbit. (Central retinal vein not labeled, but region is visible - the vein is inside the optic nerve.)
Diagram of the blood vessels of the eye, as seen in a horizontal section. (Central retinal vein not labeled, but region is visible. The central retinal vein is at bottom running away from the retina through the optic nerve.)
Drains toSuperior ophthalmic vein,
cavernous sinus
ArteryCentral retinal artery
LatinVena centralis retinae
Anatomical terminology


The central retinal vein is the venous equivalent of the central retinal artery, and like that blood vessel can suffer from occlusion (central retinal vein occlusion), similar to that seen in ocular ischemic syndrome.

Additional images


  1. Venous Anatomy of the Orbit Cheung and McNab. Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science. 2003;44:988-995
  2. MeSH entry for central retinal vein - National Library of Medicine - Medical Subject Headings - 2007

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