Justin Bazan, OD Park Slope Eye
(- I Care -) Your Eyes Advocate

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

You were having a great day until someone looked at you and said “Oh my god! Your eye is bleeding!” You head to the mirror and you are taken back at what you see. Your eye wasn’t bothering you but you are stunned to see the normally white part of you eye is bright red. You can’t recall anything happening to your eye, it doesn’t hurt and your vision seems to be fine as well. The good news is that this is typically something that looks way worse than what it really is. This frightfully appearing condition is most likely to be diagnosed as a subconjunctival hemorrhage, a broken blood vessel.

When a tiny blood vessel breaks just underneath the clear cellophane like layer of your eye (conjunctiva), the trapped blood spreads out quickly, leaving you with a grossly red eye. This is the equivalent of a broken blood vessel under your skin (a bruise) and similarly will take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to totally resolve. It may also change colors, just like a bruise, as the blood is being absorbed back into the body. Although this is mostly a very benign and self-limiting condition, it is best to let an expert make sure. It is extremely important to identify the cause, and monitor for resolution and recurrence.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage often occurs without any injury to the eye. Some common causes include, strenuous exercising, coughing, sneezing, eye rubbing, extreme g-forces, vomiting, straining, and even excessive alcohol intoxication. A more severe cause is high blood pressure. Blood thinning agents such as aspirin, ginger, capsaicin, ginseng, garlic, aspirin, or Herba can make you more prone and also inhibit absorption.

No specific treatment is needed for a subconjunctival hemorrhage, however I will often prescribe some lubricating/moisturizing eye drops and hot/cold compress to help alleviate any general discomfort and to help the absorption of the blood.
If you have recurrent subconjunctival hemorrhages or other bleeding, talk to your doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor about any medications or supplements you take. A full blood work up may be necessary.

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8 Responses to “Subconjunctival Hemorrhage”

  1. Hi Dr. – not sure if you remember me – I came in last Tues. evening with a big red spot in my eye. You told me you had recently written about this phenomenon and gave me the link info to your blog. I just read the posting – wish I would read it sooner, I would have felt much better about what happened to me – especially as compared to the picture posted! In any case, my big blob moved over towards the colored part of my eye the very next day, and is nearly gone now. Thanks so much for taking the time to see me that day, for doing such a thorough review and for explaining to me what you were checking and why. I really really appreciate it! You have a great manner with patients; I was alot more nervous than I tried to act like I was, and you really calmed my fears. All the best, Lori Leach

  2. I wear contacts
    Should I wait a few days before wearing them again or is it OK to wear my contacts

    Thanks

  3. Hi. For the past 2/3 years when I get sick (vomit), my eye will begin to swell and the tissue of the lower lid will be a very dark red. Then hours later my eyeball will be really red, the tissue still dark under and my skin bruised. But once it occured by me rubbing my eye and last night it happened when my husband was tickling me? I spoke to a optomologist and a general doctor about this and they seem to think it’s nothing, they’ve never done any blood tests. What would they test for? It’s extremely embarrassing and inconvenient. I was suppose to have my 24th birthday party tomorrow and I really could use any advice. Thank you.

  4. Can breakage of small vessels during delivery affect my baby’s vision ? The hemorrhage seems to affect a large area.

  5. You’re a good man for posting these informative medical blogs..thanks.

  6. I HAD CATARACT SURGURY 2 MONTHS AGO AND MY VESSELS HAVE BEEN BLEEDING QUITE OFTEN SINCE THEN. I DO TAKE ASPRIN, GENSENG AND GARLIC.

  7. Hi. I have subconjunctival hemorrhage; my eyes do not hurt, my vision is fine, and the ‘blood’ is not all over the place, just in the side. It is my third day. Do you think i should wear my contact lenses????
    Thanks for the post.


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