BACKGROUND : Retinal vein occlusion (RVO) is a common retinal venous disorder that causes vision loss. No specific therapy has been developed. Controversy exists regarding two treatments: intravitreal dexamethasone implants and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The goal of this study is to compare the effectiveness and safety of dexamethasone implants and anti-VEGF treatment for RVO. METHODS : The PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases were searched for studies comparing dexamethasone implants with anti-VEGF in patients with RVO. Best-corrected visual acuity (BCVA), central subfield thickness (CST), intraocular pressure changes, conjunctival haemorrhage, reduced VA, and macular oedema were extracted from the final included studies. RevMan 5.3 was used to conduct the quantitative analysis and bias assessment. RESULTS : Four randomised controlled trials assessing 969 eyes were included. The anti-VEGF treatment showed better BCVA improvement (mean difference [MD] = - 10.59, P < 0.00001) and more CST decrease (MD = - 86.71 μm, P = 0.02) than the dexamethasone implants. However, the dexamethasone implants required fewer injections. As for adverse effects, the dexamethasone implants showed significantly higher intraocular pressure (IOP) and more cataracts than the anti-VEGF treatment. No significant differences were found in conjunctival haemorrhage, reduced VA, and macular oedema. CONCLUSIONS : Anti-VEGF treatment showed better functional and anatomical improvement with less risk of IOP elevation and cataract formation compared to dexamethasone implants. Thus, anti-VEGF treatment is the first choice for treating RVO patients.