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Patients with vitreous hemorrhage complain of sudden visual loss, abrupt onset of floaters that may progressively increase in severity, or occasionally, “bleeding within the eye.” Visual acuity ranges from 20/20 (6/6) to light perception. The eye is not inflamed, red, or painful, and clues to diagnosis are inability to see fundus details or localized collection of blood in the vitreous, in front of the retina (eFigure 7–41). Causes of vitreous hemorrhage include retinal tear (with or without detachment), diabetic or sickle cell retinopathy, retinal vein occlusion, retinal vasculitis, neovascular age-related macular degeneration, retinal arterial macroaneurysm, blood dyscrasia, therapeutic anticoagulation, trauma, subarachnoid hemorrhage, and severe straining (Valsalva retinopathy).

eFigure 7–41.

Large preretinal hemorrhage. (Reproduced, with permission, from Riordan-Eva P, Augsburger JJ. Vaughan & Asbury’s General Ophthalmology, 19th ed. McGraw-Hill, 2018.)


All patients with suspected vitreous hemorrhage must be referred urgently to an ophthalmologist to determine the etiology. If the vitreous hemorrhage is caused by a retinal tear or detachment, it must be repaired urgently to prevent permanent vision loss.

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