A vitreous hemorrhage is bleeding into the back of the eye. Vitreous hemorrhage can occur due to a variety of conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, retinal tears, abnormal retinal vessels, ocular trauma or simply a broken blood vessel in the retina. Vitreous hemorrhage frequently occurs in the setting of posterior vitreous detachment. Rarely, vitreous hemorrhage may be caused by systemic conditions such as hypertension or blood clotting disorders. Patients taking anticoagulants are more likely to have significant vitreous hemorrhages, although the anticoagulants themselves do not cause vitreous hemorrhage.
Vitreous hemorrhage results in the sudden onset of floaters and blurred vision. Since blood is like ink, it only takes a drop or two to blur your vision. Should these symptoms occur, you should contact your optometrist or ophthalmologist immediately to determine the cause of the bleeding and be referred to a retinal specialist if necessary.
Examination may frequently determine the cause of the bleeding. If the hemorrhage is severe, ultrasound may be used to determine the status of the retina and detect the cause of the bleeding. At least 50% of the time, vitreous hemorrhages will resolve on their own over time. Avoiding strenuous activity, keeping your head above your heart and elevating your head at night may speed resolution of the hemorrhage. If a retinal tear or abnormal retinal vessels are detected, treatment with laser may be effective. If the hemorrhage does not resolve, or when the cause of the bleeding cannot be determined, surgery may be necessary to clear the vitreous hemorrhage and treat the cause of the bleeding. In most cases, surgery is successful in restoring vision.
See Fact Sheet about Posterior Vitreous Detachment.*