Vitreous Humor: Functions – Detachment, Tear and Retinal Hemorrhage

What is it? – Anatomy

In the most fundamental anatomical terms, the eye is divided into the anterior chamber, the vitreous chamber, and the posterior chamber. The vitreous camera is placed on the back of the eyeball. It is a giant camera and occupies about 80% of the eye.

The vitreous humor (also known simply as the vitreous) is a clear, colorless liquid that fills the space between the lens and the retina of your eye. 99% of it consists of water, and the rest is a mixture of collagen, proteins, salts, and sugars. Despite the water-collagen relationship, the vitreous has a firm gelatinous consistency.

What is your function?

The vitreous plays a vital role in protecting the eyes. The most important thing is that it helps to maintain its “spherical” shape.

The vitreous also comes in contact with the retina (the light-sensitive surface at the back of the eye that acts like a camera film). The vitreous pressure helps keep the retina in place.

What happens to the vitreous as we get older?

The vitreous liquefies and contracts as we get older, just as a bowl of gelatin shrinks over time. Parts of the mixture of collagen and proteins also become a “fibrous substance,” like the white of an egg.

These fibrous entities float around the rest of the vitreous, casting a shadow on the retina. These are called “floaters” – you may notice them as specks, chains, or other shapes that you see just outside the corner of your eye.


Vitreous detachment

The vitreous itself does not adhere to the retina. However, on the surface of your retina, there are millions of fine fibers. Because the vitreous contracts as it ages, these fibers can “pull” on the surface of the retina.

If this shrinkage causes a section of the fibers to separate at one time, it is called vitreous detachment. These are common in people over 65 and extremely common in people over 85 years.

A vitreous detachment is more likely to happen if you have had myopia, have had an eye injury, or have had an inflamed eye (uveitis).

A vitreous detachment should not cause any problems with your vision apart from increased ‘floaters.’ While this can be annoying, you should find that they do not affect your daily life.

The only risk factor you would face is the slightly greater chance of a retinal tear or a more severe retinal detachment.

Vitreous hemorrhage

If you notice a reddish tinge in your vision and your vision is blurred, you may be suffering from a vitreous hemorrhage. Although there are no blood vessels in the vitreous, there are vessels in the surrounding retina; A vitreous hemorrhage can occur when one of these ruptures occurs. Other symptoms of vitreous hemorrhage include increased floaters and sensitivity to light.

Tearing of the retina

Occasionally, a vitreous detachment will cause a “lump” of fibers on the retina’s surface to create a tear in the sensitive tissue of the retina.

Even the smallest of tears in the retina will have to be treated, as it will increase the risk of a retinal detachment. Retinal tears can be sealed with laser or cryotherapy.

Retinal detachment

A medical emergency is the most severe disorder involving the vitreous humor, a retinal detachment. This occurs when the (vitreous) fluid is filtered through a retinal tear, causing the retina to “peel off” from the support layers (just like wallpaper peels away from the wall when wet).


There are several issues related to vitreous humor that can require a procedure called vitrectomy.

If you suffer from a retinal detachment that threatens the macula, a tear or tears in the retina, a vitreous hemorrhage, or another problem that affects the retina, this surgical procedure may be required.

Your ophthalmologist will remove the vitreous and replace it with gas or silicone oil. This will restore the average pressure in your eye.

The vitreous – a summary

The vitreous chamber is the largest cavity in the eye, making the vitreous humor the most prominent fluid in the eye.

Present at birth, it changes little until we enter our fifth decade, when it begins to shrink, which can lead to disorders ranging from harmless floats to a detached retina that impairs vision.

After passing through the cornea, the aqueous humor, and the lens (anterior segment of the eye), the light finally enters the vitreous (also called vitreous humor).

It would help if you had a flash of light to see this. It is a transparent, gelatinous substance that fills the vitreous body. The vitreous body is the space created by the lens, the retina, and the optic disc. This is also known as the posterior segment of the eye.

The main functions of the vitreous are to transmit light to the retina and exert sufficient pressure to keep the layers of the retina firmly pressed together. This pressure helps maintain the eye’s round shape so that the target can focus sharp images on the retina.

The vitreous is very different from the aqueous humor. This clear gel is composed of tiny fibers and water and is permanently formed at birth. Although substances can diffuse slowly through the vitreous, there is very little fluid flow.

The vitreous does not undergo a regular process of formation and drainage as the aqueous humor. Instead, it remains permanently in the vitreous body of the eye.

Because the vitreous does not undergo continuous replacement, its contribution to the total fluid pressure of the eye remains relatively constant. As a result, changes in the eye’s internal pressure are almost entirely due to changes in the rate of formation or drainage of the aqueous humor.