Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

Do you see a bright blood red spot (or spots) on the conjunctiva (the clear tissue covering the white part of the eye, which is the sclera) of your eye? Have your coworkers become alarmed letting you know that your eye is very red? You may have a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage.

A Subconjunctival Hemorrhage has a very dramatic appearance and can thus be alarming to discover one on your eye. .

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What are the symptoms?

  • Typically there is no pain unless the hemorrhage is a result of trauma such as an abrasion to the conjunctiva or blunt trauma to the eye from a closed fist.
  • In the absence of trauma, there is also no discharge from the eye and no vision change.
  • Often first noticed when you first wake up and look in a mirror.
  • What are the causes?

    Subconjunctival Hemorrhage is a bursted blood vessel often resulting from a sudden increase in pressure which can occur from:

  • Violent sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
  • Projectile vomiting or forcible vomiting
  • Heavy lifting
  • Straining while going to the bathroom
  • Other less common causes can include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Use of blood thinner medications such as aspirin or Coumadin.The blood from the bursted vessel spills in the space between the conjunctiva and the sclera spreading out, often making it look larger than the initial bleed.
  • What tests will your eye doctor perform?

    Your eye doctor will examine your eyes to include the following:

  • The most important part for your eye doctor to make the diagnosis is to ask the right questions. Make sure to tell your eye doctor if you have experienced any sudden increase in pressure resulting from forcible coughing, sneezing, heavy lifting, vomiting, nose-blowing, or strain going to the bathroom.
  • Any history of trauma will be reviewed carefully. The eye will be checked for internal damage and inflammation such as seen in uveitis.
  • Vision check. With Subconjunctival Hemorrhage you should not experience any decrease in vision.
  • Your blood pressure should be checked and any medication use should be disclosed to your eye doctor. Tell your doctor if you have other areas of bruising or bleeding.
  • Your eye doctor will carefully examine your eyes for any signs of abrasions, lacerations or foreign matter.
  • What can you do to treat a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

    A Hemorrhage usually goes away on its own in one to two weeks. Think of it as a bruise on the eye. When you have a bruise on your arm, for example, the bruise first appears as a bright purple color, and then it fades into a brownish, patchy area, then turns into a faded yellowish area, and finally disappears.

    Likewise, your bright red spot on your eye will gradually fade into a patchy pink area, and then fade into a yellowish area before disappearing.

    Like a healing bruise on your arm, your Hemorrhage may itch during these fading phases. Use cold compresses (ice cubes in a sandwich bag wrapped with a washcloth) once or twice per day during this healing time.

    Also use lubricating tears up to four times per day. The lubricating tears will soothe the eye. It is always a good idea to consult your eye care provider to make sure you’re your Hemorrhage is not associated with any other health issue.


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