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What is vitreous haemorrhage and what causes it?

Vitreous haemorrhage is when blood leaks into the clear jelly of the vitreous humour that fills the inside of the eye. Blood usually arises from damage to, or blockage of the blood vessels of the retina. The blood within the vitreous jelly obscures the passage of light and can distort and blur vision.

vitreous_haemorrhage_blood_in_front_of_retina

As we get older, the vitreous jelly that fills the middle of your eye starts to thicken and shrink, pulling away from the retina, a condition known as posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). Damage to the retinal blood vessels can occur due to PVD, and can be accompanied by a sudden, painless and catastrophic loss of sight that can occur over minutes.

If you have had a retinal tear or detachment recently, or any unexpected damage to the eye, you may also experience a vitreous haemorrhage.
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’.

What are the risk factors for vitreous haemorrhage?

In addition to retinal tear or detachment, other risk factors for vitreous haemorrhage include diabetes, high blood pressure or use of warfarin or aspirin.

With diabetes, your high blood-sugar levels can damage the eye’s blood vessels, increasing the chance of blood leaking into the vitreous.

Trauma to the eye, dehydration, seasonality (summer months), and even affluence are also all considered risk factors.

If you would like to read in more detail about the risk factors of vitreous haemorrhage or retinal detachment, please click here.

Vitreous Haemorrhage Symptoms:

Vitreous haemorrhage is a situation that requires urgent medical attention. Contact your ophthalmologist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
    • Floaters or blobs/spots disrupting the clarity of your vision (intensified floaters if previously identified)
    • Sudden blurring
    • Sudden blindness- in severe cases

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