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Bleeding Behind the Eye in Elderly Adults

The thought of bleeding behind the eye in elderly adults sounds very scary. While any injury to or problem with an eye can be serious, bleeding behind the eye is generally treatable and does not always result in loss of vision.

Bleeding behind the eye, or a vitreous hemorrhage, occurs when blood leaks into the vitreous humor inside the eye. The vitreous humor needs to remain clear for the eye to function properly, so when blood leaks into it, changes in vision often occur. The change in vision can be anything from a few “floaters” to complete loss of vision (often with a reddish tinge). So what causes a bleed behind the eye, and what can be done about it?

What Causes Bleeding Behind the Eyes?

Severe diabetic eye disease is the main cause of bleeding behind the eyes. Some other causes include:

  • Bleeding from tears in the retina

  • Trauma to the eye

  • Macular degeneration

  • Damaged blood vessels behind the eye

  • Eye surgery, particularly if it occurs inside the eye

Vitreous hemorrhage can be very alarming as it tends to come on quickly. If you suspect any type of eye bleed, you should head to an emergency room quickly as the treatment depends on the type of bleed and the speed at which the bleed is addressed.

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What is the Treatment for Bleeding Behind the Eye?

The treatment for eye bleeds depends on the cause of the bleed. Ultimately the goal of treatment is to find the source of the bleed, stop the bleeding and restore vision. Typically, laser treatment is used to stop the bleeding blood vessels. Then the patient will just need to limit strenuous activity and wait for the blood to clear. Eye drops may also be prescribed for swelling or other discomfort.

Extreme cases may require vitrectomy, in which the entire vitreous humor is removed. This is needed when there is too much blood to locate and stop a bleed.

Eye bleeds caused by abnormal or broken blood vessels can usually be treated without any remaining vision problems. Treatments for eye bleeds caused by diabetic eye disease or macular degeneration are possible but, unfortunately less likely to end in perfectly restored vision.

You can help prevent eye bleeds by always using eye protection when engaging in activity that could result in eye trauma, like hammering or playing sports with high-speed balls. Taking contact lenses out to sleep and quitting smoking can also reduce the chances of eye bleeds.