What is vitreous hemorrhage?
The eye is filled with a clear vitreous ‘gel’. When blood leaks into this gel, usually from blockage or damage to the blood vessels of the retina, it is known as a vitreous haemorrhage. This usually results in blurred vision, as the leaked fluids block the light that passes into the eye.
There are three main causes of vitreous haemorrhage:
Damage to normal blood vessels
Retinal blood vessels that are damaged through injury or trauma can cause a vitreous haemorrhage. Some eye problems can also cause damage to the blood vessels of the retina, such as retinal detachment. A retinal vein occlusion can also cause vitreous haemorrhage, as it blocks the veins that feed the retina, which may then bleed into the vitreous ‘gel’.
Growth of abnormal blood vessels
Some eye conditions can cause the growth of abnormal blood vessels that bleed into the vitreous ‘gel’ of the eye. The later stages of diabetic retinopathy, some retinal vein occlusions, and occasionally wet AMD can cause abnormal, delicate blood vessels to grow and bleed into the vitreous cavity.
Bleeding from other parts of the eye
Occasionally blood from another source can cause a vitreous hemorrhage. While it is very rare, a hemorrhage in another part of the eye, or even a tumour, can cause blood to leak through into the vitreous ‘gel’.
Who is at risk for vitreous hemorrhage?
Poorly controlled diabetics with proliferative diabetic retinopathy are at high risk. People younger than 40 with vitreous hemorrhage often have a history of recent ocular trauma of some sort whereas older, non-diabetic patients with vitreous hemorrhage likely suffered an acute retinal detachment and/or retinal tear.
What are the symptoms of vitreous hemorrhage?
Vitreous hemorrhage normally occurs suddenly, and without any pain. Symptoms range from the sudden appearance of spots or floaters in your vision, to a sudden blurring of vision, and in severe cases, sudden blindness. Some people find that their vision tends to be worse in the morning, as the blood has settled to the back of their eye during the night.
How is vitreous hemorrhage treated?
In general, treatment for a vitreous hemorrhage depends on the cause of the condition. In some cases, when the vitreous hemorrhage is quite mild, no treatment is required, and the eye will naturally heal itself. In more severe cases, and especially in the case of a retinal detachment, vitrectomy surgery may be required.