University of Iowa Health Care

Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences

EyeRounds Online Atlas of Ophthalmology

Central Retinal Artery Occlusion (CRAO)

Contributor: Thomas A. Weingeist, PhD, MD, University of Iowa

Updated and Expanded by: Cameron Wagner, BS  and Lorraine M. Provencher, MD


Central retinal artery occlusion (CRAO) occurs when occlusion of the central retinal artery, a branch of the ophthalmic artery, results in infarction of the inner retina with subsequent, typically severe, vision loss. The picture above exhibits a CRAO with sparing of the foveal retina due to the presence of a cilioretinal artery. A cilioretinal artery has been found to be present in 49.5% of patients. The cilioretinal artery branches off the ophthalmic artery and supplies the inner retina in these individuals. This is in contradistinction to the posterior ciliary arteries, which branch off the ophthalmic artery and supply the choroid and outer retina. Patients with a cilioretinal artery may have preserved central vision in the unfortunate event of a CRAO.


  1. Varma DD, Cugati S, Lee AW, Chen CS. 2013. A review of central retinal artery occlusion: clinical presentation and management. Eye. 27:688-697.


Image Comment: Sparing of the fovea due to a ciliary retinal artery in the presence of a CRAO secondary to a cardiac myxoma.

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last updated: 03/24/2017; originally posted 02-08-2008
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