If you have ever had a red patch appear in the white area of your eye, you have experienced a condition known as subconjunctival hemorrhage. This condition is also called red eye or hyposphagma. This article will explore the signs, symptoms and causes of this condition in more depth so that you can understand what subconjunctival hemorrhages are and how to care for them should they occur.
What is a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?
A subconjunctival hemorrhage (or red eye) occurs when a blood vessel in the eye breaks. The broken blood vessel will bleed which will make the eye appear red. Many different factors can cause this condition to occur. Often people will awake in the morning to a red eye.
The name subconjunctival hemorrhage actually tells us a lot about the condition. The conjunctiva is the thin transparent covering over the eye. It covers the sclera, or white, of the eye. The term subconjunctival implies that something is occurring underneath the conjunctiva. Hemorrhage is another term for bleeding. When you combine these two words it means bleeding underneath the conjunctiva or thin coating on the outside of the eye. This is exactly what a subconjunctival hemorrhage is.
While a subconjunctival hemorrhage doesnít have to be a result of injury, some factors can increase their occurrence. For example red eye may occur after an episode of heavy sneezing or coughing. They can also be caused by high blood pressure. Some medications, like blood thinners, can also increase the likelihood of a subconjunctival hemorrhage occurring. Many newborns also experience this type of hemorrhaging due to pressure changes in their bodies as a result of the birth process.
Signs of Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
A subconjunctival hemorrhage will make the white of your eye appear a bright red color. Since it is a result of a broken blood vessel and bleeding into the eye, the eye will typically take on a blood like color. In some cases the hemorrhage will spread and may become yellowish or greenish and look very similar to a bruise. Bleeding eye often heals quickly and should be completely gone in two weeks or less.
Subconjunctival hemorrhages are generally painless and donít exhibit any signs other than the red appearance of the eye. There should not be any changes in vision associated with this condition. Additionally there should not be any discharge from the eye. If pain, discharge or vision changes occur, you should see a doctor immediately as this can be a sign of a more serious problem.
Treatment Options for a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage
Most of the time subconjunctival hemorrhages are not serious and will resolve themselves in a few days. There isnít any way to treat them, so basically you will need to wait until your body has time to heal and the broken blood vessel has time to repair itself. There are a few instances however when you should seek medical treatment for a subconjunctival hemorrhage.
Occasionally red eye can be a sign of more serious conditions like high blood pressure. If you experience this condition you may want to visit your doctor for a blood pressure check. You should also see a doctor immediately if you have hemorrhaging in both eyes or if the hemorrhage is accompanied by bleeding or bruising in other parts of the body. In some cases a subconjunctival hemorrhage can be a sign of a serious head injury, so see your doctor if it occurs as a result of an injury to either the head or the eye. Finally consult a doctor if the hemorrhage is accompanied by pain, changes in vision, discharge from the eye or if you are concerned about your condition for any reason. If the subconjunctival hemorrhage does not resolve itself in two weeks medical treatment may be needed.
Avoid using pain medications to treat a subconjunctival hemorrhage. You should especially avoid using aspirin or ibuprofen. Some people find that artificial tears can provide some relief if there is slight irritation to the eye.
Subconjunctival hemorrhages are fairly common and most of the time they are nothing to be concerned about. This condition is generally painless and will usually go away without treatment. They are a result of bleeding under the conjunctiva and may occur due to injury or for no apparent reason at all.
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