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Long-term evolution of Valsalva retinopathy: a case series

Miriam García Fernández*, Joaquín Castro Navarro and Carmen González Castaño

  • * Corresponding author: Miriam García Fernández

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

Department of Ophthalmology, Central University Hospital of Asturias, C/Dionisio Ridruejo, nº5, 11ºD, CP: 33007, Oviedo, Asturias, Spain

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Journal of Medical Case Reports 2012, 6:346  doi:10.1186/1752-1947-6-346

Published: 10 October 2012



Valsalva retinopathy may occur as a sudden, dramatic loss of central vision due to the premacular location of the haemorrhage. It has been described in different clinical settings, and there are several options for its treatment.

Case presentations

We present the cases of six patients with sudden visual acuity loss caused by Valsalva retinopathy, treated in our hospital in the last ten years. Case 1 involves a 32-year-old Caucasian man with a unilateral premacular haemorrhage after vomiting. A neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet laser was used due to sufficient depth of the haemorrhage pocket, but it was unsuccessful. Instead, 20G pars plana vitrectomy was performed with excellent visual recuperation (visual acuity:1.0). Case 2 was of a 36-year-old Caucasian woman with Valsalva retinopathy after vomiting during pregnancy. A neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet laser was also insufficient due to the coagulated blood. After labour, 23G pars plana vitrectomy was performed, and her final visual acuity was 1.0. Case 3 involved a 52-year-old Caucasian man with premacular bleeding due to vomiting after general anaesthesia. The haemorrhage did not resolve spontaneously, so 23G pars plana vitrectomy was performed, with excellent visual outcomes (visual acuity:1.0). Case 4 was a 24-year-old Caucasian man with a macular haemorrhage after thoracic trauma. He was observed over four weeks, after which we performed 23G pars plana vitrectomy, with complete visual restoration (visual acuity:1.0). Case 5 involved a 28-year-old man who developed a premacular bleed after vigorous dancing. After a period of observation, 23G pars plana vitrectomy was performed. A retinal break with a small haemorrhage around the break occurred, related to the peribulbar anaesthesia manoeuvers, but was resolved successfully. His final visual acuity was 1.0. Case 6 was a 22-year-old Caucasian woman who developed a premacular haemorrhage after weightlifting. Conservative management was performed due to the small size of her haemorrhage. It resolved spontaneously within one month, and her final visual acuity was 1.0.


Valsalva retinopathy is a rare condition that causes a sudden loss of visual acuity. In patients with too dense haemorrhage, the best option could be the vitrectomy, with excellent visual outcomes, although surgery is not free of risks.