When you see someone having a dark-red patch on the whites of the eye, he or she is suffering from a condition known as “subconjunctival hemorrhage”. The condition usually looks worse than it actually is, and is caused by the rupturing of the tiny, but fragile, blood vessels in the eye. The tissue that lines the eyes, on both sides of the eyelids, is called the conjunctiva. This tissue has a mesh of nerves and blood vessels, which are usually invisible, but can become large when they are inflamed. When you suffer from conjunctivitis, the eyes become red due to the inflammation of these vessels, making them visible. When the vessels are ruptured they leak blood into the space beneath the conjunctiva, hence the name “subconjunctival hemorrhage”.
What causes the condition to occur?
The rupturing of the blood can be caused by trauma, and can also occur spontaneously. If you strain, through picking up heavy objects, coughing, sneezing, etc., you can cause the vessels to rupture. Vigorous rubbing of the eyes or accidental touching when inserting contact lenses can also lead to this condition. An infection of the conjunctiva can also lead to this type of bleeding since the bacteria or virus, will weaken the blood vessels.
What are the signs and symptoms of subconjunctival hemorrhage?
There are, usually, no symptoms associated with this condition apart from the appearance of blood in the white area of the eye. At times there may be pain at the beginning of the bleeding, and the patient gets the feeling of increased pressure in the eye. As the clot clears up, people get the irritating feeling that accompanies healing of surface tissues. People may also have a sense of awareness of the eye similar to that you get when there is a speck in your eye.
The bleeding can occur in one part of the eye, where there is a clear delineation of the dark blotch, or it could fill the whole eye. The blood does not leave the conjunctiva, and even if you touch a soft tissue, or cloth, to the eye, it should have no blood. If there is blood, then you should see an ophthalmologist, who will check to see if there is a tear in your conjunctiva. If the bleeding occurs in both eyes at the same time, or is accompanied by the bleeding of the gums, you should see the ophthalmologist. You should also see the specialist if the subconjunctival hemorrhage comes with pain, is the result of physical trauma, causes difficulty in vision (blurring, or double vision). You should also see the ophthalmologist if you have a history of high blood pressure, or a bleeding disorder such as poor clotting, or thinning of blood.
What is the diagnosis?
The ophthalmologist will examine the eye carefully to see if there is any physical trauma to the eyes, or the blood pressure is affecting the eye. He will also ask for your medical history especially finding out if you suffered an illness that could cause the blood to this, or to clot poorly. He will also ask about the events that lead to the bleeding. If the subconjunctival hemorrhage was caused by physical trauma, he will check to see if there is more damage to the eye, than is apparent. He will then tell you the cause of the subconjunctival hemorrhage and prescribe some treatment. The condition can be found in newborn children due to the process of birth. However, if the baby suddenly develops redness in both eyes, then you can assume that he or she has suffered some trauma, either falling, or being shaken.
What is the treatment for burst blood vessel in the eye ?
The condition tends to clear up on its own, and there is no treatment given when it is found to be innocent subconjunctival hemorrhage. You may experience some mild irritation as the condition clear up and you can buy eye drops over the counter, and apply regularly. You should avoid using medicine that has anticoagulation properties, such as aspirin. If you had been on a treatment regimen that contains such medication, you should visit the doctor to see if you should stop using them
If the subconjunctival hemorrhage was caused by physical trauma to the eye, the ophthalmologist will determine which the best treatment for the damage is. If the condition was brought about by a viral or bacterial infection of the eye, then the ophthalmologist will recommend some antibiotics, or an ointment.
Within two weeks, your eye should have cleared up. The color of the patch will change from red, to orange to yellow, as the blood leaves the subconjunctival space, before finally clearing up.
If you walk into the bathroom one morning and see the red patch in your eye, you should not panic, but examine what may have caused it, and decide whether to see an ophthalmologist.