A vitreous hemorrhage is a medical problem with the eye in which a blood vessel ruptures and leaks into the vitreous, the clear gel which fills the eye. There are a number of reasons why a vitreous hemorrhage can develop, and there are several available treatment options. This condition is generally managed by an ophthalmologist, although if the hemorrhage was caused by an underlying disease process, another doctor may be consulted to provide more complete treatment.
Much of the eye is taken up with the vitreous. When blood leaks into this area of the eye, it can cause specks, spots, floaters, and cloudy vision. In extreme cases, the patient may develop blindness. These visual symptoms are usually the only sign of a vitreous hemorrhage, as the condition is usually not painful. Sometimes the condition is complicated with a problem such as retinal detachment, depending on what caused the hemorrhage in the first place.
The tiny blood vessels inside the eye usually rupture because they are weakened. Individuals with high blood pressure, diabetic retinopathy, and sickle cell anemia are at increased risk for vitreous hemorrhage. In addition, this condition can be caused by trauma to the eye. Other underlying medical conditions can also be involved, making discussion of any existing medical problems an important part of the patient workup for the purpose of determining which contributing factors may be involved.
The conservative approach to treatment is to do nothing. In some patients, the leaked blood eventually clots and is reabsorbed, and the vitreous hemorrhage resolves on its own. In people with severe hemorrhage or outstanding risk factors, the doctor may recommend a vitrectomy, in which some of the gel is aspirated and replaced with a saline solution. There are some risks to this procedure, and it is generally only recommended when it is necessary.
As part of the treatment for vitreous hemorrhage, the doctor will also address other eye conditions and medical issues which the patient may be experiencing. It is important to provide treatment for underlying medical problems or the hemorrhage may recur, and the eye could be compromised. Treatments can include adjustments to the patient's current treatment plan, as well as workups to determine why the patient's underlying condition flared up and led to a hemorrhage in the eye. For people with conditions which put them at risk for eye problems, it is important to stay alert and to manage the condition to prevent such problems from emerging.