Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

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What Is a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

Subconjunctival hemorrhage is red lines or spots on the part of the eye that is usually white. The redness is usually harmless and painless. You may not know your eyes are red until someone tells you or you look in a mirror.

How Does the Hemorrhage Occur?

The conjunctiva is the thin sheet of transparent tissue that covers the sclera (the white part of your eye). It contains many blood vessels that are usually too small to see. Your eyeball looks white. However, blood vessels in the conjunctiva may become inflamed and cause redness. They may also bleed. The blood from a broken blood vessel becomes trapped just under the conjunctiva. A small amount of blood can make the eye look very red.

Possible Causes of These Hemorrhages Are:

  • Injury
  • Rubbing your eye
  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Straining

Sometimes subconjunctival hemorrhages occur for no clear reason. They may occur more often in people who have high blood pressure.

What Are the Symptoms?

Your eye has red lines or patches in the normally white sclera, or the whole sclera may become red. Your eye may feel slightly scratchy.

If you have eye pain or changes in your vision, the redness may be caused by a more serious problem.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your health care provider will examine your eye. He or she will ask if:

  • You have any problems with your vision
  • You have any eye pain

Your health care provider may examine you further if:

  • You often have this eye problem
  • You also have a number of unexplained bruises in other places on your body

How Is It Treated?

Usually, no treatment is needed. The blood becomes absorbed in time, and the eye becomes clear again.

How Long Will the Effects Last?

Unless your eye has been seriously damaged, the redness in your eye may clear in a week. Sometimes it takes as long as 3 weeks to go away.

How Can I Help Prevent a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

Often subconjunctival hemorrhages just happen with no clear cause and so can’t be easily prevented. However, sometimes you can help prevent this problem by:

  • Not rubbing your eye when you feel something in it. Instead, wait for your own tears to wash out the particle or use eye drops called artificial tears
  • Avoiding the lifting of very heavy objects
  • When appropriate, wearing safety goggles to protect your eyes from injury and to keep out particles that could irritate your eyes

Reviewed and approved by the Wilmer Eye Institute of The Johns Hopkins Medical institutions, Baltimore, MD.

For more eye care options, please contact Kirk Eye Center using our online form or by calling (970) 744-2566 today.