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What is a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 August 2014
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A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a bleed underneath the conjunctiva of the eye, the delicate membrane which covers the sclera, or white of the eye. When a subconjunctival hemorrhage develops, the white of the eye turns bright red, because the blood is trapped between the conjunctiva and the sclera. This condition can look quite alarming, but it is usually perfectly harmless, and it will resolve on its own within two weeks.

The symptoms of a subconjunctival hemorrhage are fairly obvious, but because the condition doesn't cause any pain or discomfort, the condition might be noticed by a friend or coworker before the patient spots it. Typically a subconjunctival hemorrhage takes the form of a bright red spot in the white of the eye which may spread to cover much more of the white, depending on the severity of the bleed. For the first few days, a subconjunctival hemorrhage can look extremely ugly. However, like a bruise, it will start to fade, turning bluish, green, and yellowish before disappearing entirely.

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There are a number of causes for subconjunctival hemorrhages. Trauma to the eye is a leading cause, along with heavy lifting, stress, physical strain, intense vomiting, and some surgeries. Usually, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is an isolated problem, but it can be the symptom of an underlying issue. For this reason, some people like to go to the doctor to confirm that they really do have a subconjunctival hemorrhage. A doctor should always be consulted if a subconjunctival hemorrhage is accompanied by impaired vision, eye pain, nausea, or headaches.

The best treatment for a subconjunctival hemorrhage is no treatment. The bleed has usually stopped by the time it is identified, and eventually the blood will work its way out of the eyeball on its own. It's a good idea to avoid touching the area around the eye or compressing the eye during the healing stages. If the eye becomes itchy, as sometimes happens, soothing eye drops can be used to ease the itching. Dark glasses can be worn by patients who are tired of receiving comments about their reddened eyes.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage every now and then is nothing to be concerned about, but if the condition recurs often, it may indicate that an underlying medical condition needs to be addressed. People who frequently suffer from subconjunctival hemorrhages may want to talk to a doctor. Sometimes the condition can be addressed with dietary changes, the discontinuation of certain medications or supplements, or a break from heavy exercise.

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Discuss this Article

anon950397
Post 3

I had it several times and it usually goes within 12 days.It clears outside first and closer to the eyeball last. The only precaution you take is not to have a hot bath because your blood pressure goes up and worsens the problem, and to avoid alcohol for the same reason.

anon75255
Post 1

What can cause repeated hemorrhages? Should a person seek treatment if she has had no pain previously but now has extreme pain?

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