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retina macula

What is a vitreous haemorrhage?

A vitreous haemorrhage occurs when blood leaks into the vitreous, the clear gel-like substance inside the eye. As a result of a vitreous haemorrhage, sudden changes in vision, including the loss of vision can occur.

What causes a vitreous haemorrhage?

Vitreous haemorrhage can occur from different causes that result in blood entering the eye. These can be grouped into causes relating to bleeding from abnormal or normal vessels.

Abnormal vessels:

  • Diabetic retinopathy – diabetes can damage the blood vessels supplying the retina, leading to growth of abnormal new and friable vessels that bleed easily. This is the most common cause of vitreous haemorrhage
  • Retinal vein occlusion – this condition blocks the veins that drain the blood from the retina, which can then lead to abnormal blood vessels that leak blood

Normal vessels:

  • Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) – the vitreous tends to liquify and separate from the retina due to age, which can pull on the retina causing a retinal tear or detachment and rupture of normal vessels resulting in blood entering the vitreous
  • Eye trauma – injury to the eye can damage and rupture to normal blood vessels at the back of the eye, and leak blood

What are the symptoms of a vitreous haemorrhage

The symptoms of vitreous haemorrhage depend on the severity of the haemorrhage.

Symptoms tend to suddenly appear and include:

  • An increase in eye floaters, spots that float across your field of vision
  • Blurred or cloudy vision
  • A reddish hue in the vision
  • Loss of vision

If any of these symptoms appear suddenly, we strongly recommend immediately getting in touch with an eye specialist to have your eyes checked.

What treatment options are available for vitreous haemorrhage?

The treatment varies depending on how severe the vitreous haemorrhage is and the underlying cause. If the haemorrhage is mild, treatment may not be required as it may be absorbed on its own. Otherwise, vitrectomy can be carried out to remove the vitreous and the blood, and to provide the surgeon access to treat any cause such as a retinal detachment that could lead to blindness.

What to expect after vitreous haemorrhage treatment

Whether full recovery of vision can be achieved or not depends on the underlying cause. Learn more about what to expect after a vitrectomy and when you can resume activities like driving, flying, and exercise by visiting our vitrectomy page.

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If you have any questions around vitreous haemorrhage or our service, please feel free to make an enquiry or call us on 0203 369 2020

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