The eye is filled with a clear vitreous ‘gel’. When blood leaks into this gel, usually from a blockage or damage to the blood vessels of the retina, it is known as a ‘vitreous haemorrhage’.
Vitreous haemorrhage symptoms
Vitreous haemorrhage 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.
Causes of vitreous haemorrhage
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 macular degeneration, can cause abnormal 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 haemorrhage. While it is very rare, a haemorrhage in another part of the eye or even a tumour can cause blood to leak through into the vitreous ‘gel’.
Treatment for vitreous haemorrhage
Treatment for a vitreous haemorrhage depends on the cause of the condition. In some cases where the vitreous haemorrhage 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.