Retinal hemorrhage is a disorder of the eye in which bleeding occurs into the retensitive tissue on the back wall of the eye. A retinal hemorrhage can be caused by hypertension, retinal vein occlusion (a blockage of a retinal vein), or diabetes mellitus (which causes small fragile blood vessels to form, which are easily damaged). Retinal hemorrhages can also occur due to shaking, particularly in young infants (shaken baby syndrome) or from severe blows to the head.
Retinal hemorrhages that take place outside of the macula can go undetected for many years, and may sometimes only be picked up when the eye is examined in detail by ophthalmoscopy or fundus photography. However, some retinal hemorrhages can cause severe impairment of vision.
A retinal hemorrhage is generally diagnosed by using an ophthalmoscope or fundus camera in order to examine the inside of the eye. A fluorescent dye is often injected into the patient's bloodstream beforehand so the administering ophthalmologist can have a more detailed view of the blood vessels in the retina.
Retinal hemorrhages, especially mild ones not associated with chronic disease, will normally resorb without treatment. Laser surgery is a treatment option which uses a laser beam to seal off damaged blood vessels in the retina. Anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs like Avastin and Lucentis have also been shown to repair retinal hemorrhaging in diabetic patients and patients with hemorrhages associated with new vessel growth.