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Subconjunctival HemorrhageWhat is a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is blood underneath the conjunctiva, the clear membrane over the white part of the eye (the sclera).

What are the symptoms of a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

Sometimes patients will report a mild irritation or a bruised feeling.  Many times, there are no symptoms (i.e. other than obvious redness, the eye feels fine.)

What causes a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

The causes include Valsalva (straining, heavy lifting, constipation, heavy coughing), trauma, hypertension, bleeding disorder, orbital mass (rare), blood thinner use, and idiopathic (unknown) cause.

Do I need to see an eye doctor if I think I have a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

An eye examination is recommended if you think you have a subconjunctival hemorrhage to evaluate the eye more thoroughly.  Your eye doctor will check to make sure there is no mass or other cause for the blood in the eye.  If the subconjunctival hemorrhage is caused by trauma, it is important to make sure there is no other damage to the eye. 

How long will it last?

Typically, it will resolve in one to two weeks depending on severity.  You should let your doctor know if the blood does not fully go away, or if there is a recurrence.

How is a subconjunctival hemorrhage treated?

A subconjunctival hemorrhage will go away on its own as the body reabsorbs the blood.  Typically no treatment is needed.  Cool compresses and over-the-counter artificial tears can be used for mild irritation.  Unfortunately, redness-reliever eye drops will not make a subconjunctival hemorrhage go away.  Aspirin use should be avoided if not prescribed by a physician since aspirin can thin the blood and increase the risk of recurrence.  After proper examination, the optometrist may refer you to your medical doctor for further evaluation and treatment if any underlying condition is suspected such as hypertension or a bleeding disorder, of if there is a suspicion that it is due to your currently prescribed medication.

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