The vitreous humor is a gel-like liquid between the lens and the retina. It is an essential part of the eye. It helps the eye keep its shape and absorbs shock. It also maintains correct oxygen levels within the eye.

Also known as the vitreous body, this gel-like liquid comprises most of the eye, helping it to keep shape.

The article will also help a person understand how the vitreous humor relates to other parts of the eye and will discuss some health concerns an individual may have with the vitreous humor.

The vitreous humor is a transparent, gel-like substance present in the eye. This substance makes up an estimated 80% of the eye’s total volume.

The vitreous humor has several important functions, such as maintaining the shape of the eye, assisting vision, and absorbing shock.

Learn more about the function and structure of the eyes.

As a 2022 research review explains, the eye is a complex organ.

The outermost part of the front of the eye is the cornea, which partly acts as a protective layer.

Just behind the cornea is the iris. This is the colored section at the front of the eye. It can control the size of the pupil — the hole at the center of the iris — to determine how much light reaches the lens.

The lens is just behind the iris, and its job is to focus incoming light toward the retina.

The retina is at the very back of the eye. Its job is to register different properties of light before sending that information to the brain via the optic nerve.

Between the lens and the retina is the vitreous humor, keeping everything in place.

Research from 2020 has shown that the vitreous has several important roles to play within the eye.

Maintaining the shape of the eye

Given its sizeable share of the eye’s total volume, the vitreous humor is essential for maintaining the shape of the eye. It holds the lens and retina in place.

Vision clarity

Because it is transparent, the vitreous humor allows light to travel through the lens and onto the retina.

Shock absorption

The vitreous humor is a soft, viscous liquid. For this reason, it allows the eye to absorb some shocks, which helps prevent certain injuries.

Maintaining oxygen gradient

For optimal eye function and to reduce oxidative stress, the eye must distribute oxygen in a specific way.

There should be a higher oxygen concentration near the retina and a lower oxygen concentration near the lens. The vitreous humor makes sure that the eye maintains a proper oxygen balance.

The eye contains two main liquid-like substances. One is the vitreous humor. The other is the aqueous humor.

Scientists have noted several important differences between these substances. For instance, aqueous humor is more water-like than vitreous humor, which has a gel-like consistency.

The aqueous humor is also present between the lens and the cornea.

A person may injure the vitreous humor in several ways.

For instance, a 2022 review explains that the vitreous humor can sustain damage from blunt trauma. This involves a severe shock to the eye, such as from an object hitting the eye.

The vitreous humor can also sustain damage from penetrating trauma, which occurs when sharp objects poke into and damage the eye.

Eye injuries have potential adverse effects, such as posterior vitreous detachment, retinal tears, and retinal detachments. This occurs when the retina detaches from the vitreous cortex. The vitreous cortex is a layer that separates the vitreous humor from the rest of the eye.

According to a 2022 review, vitreous floaters are a common sign of posterior vitreous detachment (PVD). PVD is common in older individuals.

They can also develop for other reasons.

Vitreous floaters are more commonly known as just floaters. They are clumps of collagen fibers. Although they can be a little distracting, small amounts of floaters are not usually harmful.

If there is no serious underlying cause, vitreous floaters should resolve on their own.

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Learn more about eye concerns:

Problems with the vitreous humor can have serious complications.

A posterior vitreous detachment can cause retinal damage, leading to loss of sight.

A PVD can also lead to vision loss in other ways. For instance, this condition can cause vitreous hemorrhage, when blood enters the vitreous humor.

Additionally, living with large numbers of vitreous floaters can be difficult. Research has shown that vitreous floaters can cause some people to develop suicidal ideation. This can happen with serious cases of PVD.

In some cases, doctors must operate upon the vitreous humor. This need can arise when the vitreous humor becomes too cloudy or is otherwise unable to fulfill its function.

One such operation is a vitrectomy. As 2022 research explains, a vitrectomy removes the vitreous humor. Doctors aim to replace the vitreous humor with a synthetic substitute with similar properties.

Although this operation can greatly improve an individual’s vision, it is delicate and highly complex. Complications following a vitrectomy are common.

Learn more about the procedure, risks, and recovery of a vitrectomy.

If someone experiences noticeable changes in their vision, they should seek their doctor’s advice.

These changes might include a marked increase in vitreous humor floaters. They might also include the experience of bright flashes.

A 2022 review lists these as symptoms of posterior vitreous detachment. Combined, they require swift medical attention.

Anyone with a vitreous hemorrhage should seek urgent medical attention. Research has shown that vitreous hemorrhage can indicate several serious conditions.

Alongside posterior vitreous detachment, these include intracranial hemorrhage and hemophilia.

This section answers some frequently asked questions about vitreous humor.

Can vitreous humor be replaced?

Yes, doctors can replace it with artificial substances.

How do I keep my vitreous gel healthy?

A 2019 study proposed that taking micronutrients such as vitamin C, hesperidin, zinc, leucocyanidin, l-lysine, and verbascosides may help slow or prevent the age-related degeneration of the vitreous humor.

However, researchers have not yet observed how this method works in human studies.

They suggest it may work indirectly by preventing oxidative stress, which may be a factor in vitreous humor-related concerns.

A person should always consult a doctor before changing their diet or taking supplements.

People can also maintain a healthy vitreous gel by avoiding damage to the vitreous.

The vitreous humor makes up a large part of the eye and plays several essential functions.

Several conditions can affect this liquid, potentially causing serious vision loss. However, treatment is often available.

Doctors can sometimes replace vitreous humor with artificial substances to help with vision loss and other vision issues.