to About the Eye
Vitreous Hemorrhage
    The vitreous is normally a clear, jelly-like
    fluid that fills the inside of the eye.  
    Various disease states can cause the
    vitreous to fill with blood so that light
    entering the eye will not reach the retina

Vitreous hemorrhage, or bleed, results in a sudden change in vision as it blocks light moving through
the vitreous to the retina.  This hemorrhage specifically occurs in front of the retina in the posterior
section of the eye.  

The vitreous hemorrhage may be the result of an aneurysm of a blood vessel in the eye, trauma to
the eye, a retinal tear, a retinal detachment, a new blood vessel (neo-vascularization) or as a result
of another underlying disease state.  

These disease states include diabetes, hypertension, sickle cell anemia, and carotid artery
disease.  Diabetics are particularly susceptible because the disease triggers the growth of new
blood vessels within the eye.  

The vessels are weak and bleed easily.   This is why blindness is a concern for patients suffering
from diabetes.  Vitreous hemorrhage occurs more frequently in patients over 50 but can occur at any


Someone experiencing a vitreous hemorrhage may experience one or more of the following

  •    sudden onset of blurry vision
  •    light flashes
  •    floaters (spots seemingly floating across the field of vision)
  •    blindness


Initial treatment may be observation alone.  Minor hemorrhages often clot and resolve on their own
over time.  Unfortunately, it may take months for full visual recovery from a vitreous hemorrhage.  

Current research has produced drugs that can dissolve the vitreous gel inside the eye and may
dramatically reduce the recovery time.  These drugs are currently in the investigational stage and
are awaiting FDA approval.

For more severe and debilitating vitreous hemorrhage, a vitrectomy may be performed.  A
vitrectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the vitreous gel and the blood from inside the eye.  

After the vitreous is removed, the surgeon will refill the eye with a special saline solution that closely
resembles the natural vitreous fluid in the eye.  

Recovery from the procedure will take up to 6 weeks and complete vision recovery will take longer.

©  Copyright 1999 Dialog Medical, Inc.  All rights reserved.

Midwest Retina Associates, Inc.