MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- New research has linked an eye disease called retinal vein occlusion to an increased risk for stroke.

The disease, referred to as RVO, occurs when the small veins that carry blood away from the retina become blocked. Although more common in adults, RVO can occur at any age. Having diabetes, high blood pressure or vascular disease made development of RVO more likely.

For the study, researchers compared the rates of heart attack and stroke in 4,500 people with RVO and 13,500 without the condition. Those with RVO had an almost twofold higher incidence of stroke -- rates of 1.16 vs. 0.52 strokes per 100 person-years.

No statistically significant differences in heart attack rates between the two groups were detected.

The findings, published in the March issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, suggest that people with RVO and their doctors should be aware of the possible increased likelihood of a stroke, the researchers concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about retinal vein occlusion.