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Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

What is a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

  • A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a small blood vessel under the conjunctiva breaks and bleeds, often in a sector of the eye.

  • The entire view of the sclera may be obstructed by the blood clot.

What are some of the symptoms?

  • Bloody patch on the white of the eye

  • Possible mild irritation

  • Usually asymptomatic

What can cause subconjunctival hemorrhage?

  • Valsalva (e.g., coughing, straining, heavy lifting, or vomiting.)

  • Traumatic (May be isolated or associated with a retrobulbar hemorrhage or ruptured globe.)

  • Hypertension

  • Bleeding disorder

  • Idiopathic

How is it diagnosed?

  • Red or purple lesion beneath the conjunctiva usually elevated slightly.

How will I know if I have a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

If you have a subconjunctival hemorrhage, you will know by a small red blood clot that forms on your eye.  Simply look into a mirror and most will notice it, or a friend or family member may point it out.  In other words if a subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs, it is extremely unlikely that you will not notice it within minutes.

It is important when you notice your abrasion that you do not panic.  If you have a slight irritation, you can simply make a visit to your eye doctor, and he will assure you that you will be fine.

How can I get rid of my subconjunctival hemorrhage?

You may be surprised but the subconjunctival hemorrhage is much like a bruise on your eye.  The blood becomes trapped underneath the clear conjunctiva tissue causing an unsightly abrasion on your eye.  Patients can be given artificial tear drops (e.g., Refresh Tears), if mild ocular irritation occurs.  Patients are also discouraged to take aspirin products and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.  For the most part, the blood should clear up on its own.​

How long will it take to clear up?

This condition usually clears spontaneously within 1 to 2 weeks. Patients are told to return if the blood does not fully resolve or if they suffer a recurrence. Referral to an internist or family physician should be made as indicated for hypertension or a bleeding diathesis.

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