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Vitreous hemorrhage occurs when blood leaks into the areas in and around the clear gel between the eye’s lens and retina and causes vision problems.
What is Vitreous Hemorrhage?
Serious vision problems can arise due to a condition known as vitreous hemorrhage. It is caused by a leakage, or extravasation, of blood into areas in and around a structure called the vitreous humor. Since the vitreous is 99% water, it forms the gel area between the lens and the retina. A hemorrhage can occur for a number of reasons, such as a patient having abnormal blood vessels or due to an injury to otherwise normal vessels. A vitreous hemorrhage is one of the leading causes of severely decreased vision in patients and can vary from the mild to the severe. For some patients, the problem can resolve itself without the need for medical intervention. At Southeastern Retina Specialist, our board-certified retina specialists, Dr. Shawn Agee and Dr. John Sullivan are here to help with a thorough diagnosis.
Causes and Symptoms
A number of issues can lead to vitreous hemorrhage. In some instances, normal vessels can rupture due to a traumatic injury or an accident. Other times, blood vessels are already abnormal and are susceptible to bleeding. Preexisting eye problems like retinal detachment or retinal vein occlusion (a blood clot in the retina’s vein) can also lead to vitreous hemorrhage.
With some patients, there’s an abnormal growth of blood vessels that can cause a bleeding into the gel area of the eye. Several conditions can lead to this type of growth such as diabetic retinopathy, a swelling in the retina caused by diabetes. In addition, other parts of the eye can bleed, which is also considered a type of vitreous hemorrhage.
The symptoms of vitreous hemorrhage can come on suddenly with some patients experiencing no pain. Common symptoms include:
- Impaired vision (especially in the morning for some patients)
- Spots, floaters, appearance of haze, or shadows in a patient’s line of vision
- Limited visual acuity (sharpness of vision)
- Limited visual field
- Sudden blindness
- Photopsia (patient experiences perceived flashes of light)
To properly diagnose vitreous hemorrhage, your ophthalmologist will give you a complete eye examination. Part of this examination can include indirect ophthalmoscopy with scleral depression. This involves our doctor holding your eye open while he or she looks at the back of the eye with a bright light and a depressor instrument. This is performed to get a better view of the retina, as well as other parts of the eye. Another method is dilating the opposite eye to help give clues into why the affected eye is suffering from vitreous hemorrhage.
Your doctor could also conduct a gonioscopy examination to examine the area between the iris and cornea to determine whether the area where fluid drains out is open or closed. With an eye ultrasound, your doctor will examine various structures of the eyes, as well as take measurements.
Treatment and Prognosis
Some patients require no treatment since the hemorrhage is mild and the eye will heal on its own. For more severe cases, surgery may be warranted. Vitrectomy surgery is used to reattach a detached retina. With laser pan-retinal photocoagulation, laser technology is used to prevent the growth of new blood vessels over the retina and other eye structures.
The prognosis of this condition is determined by not only the severity of the hemorrhage, but also the underlying cause. If a patient has other diseases, such as diabetes and/or age-related macular degeneration, the blood doesn’t clear out of the gel as fast and can lead to other issues. It’s important to seek treatment for underlying conditions and diseases, as well, that can cause vitreous hemorrhages.
Treat Vitreous Hemorrhage
Blood in the eye can cause all kinds of serious issues like blurred vision, reduction of visual acuity, and even blindness. However, the condition can be easy to diagnose and treat by our skilled medical team. Feel free to give us a call to schedule your appointment as soon as possible.