This past week, I had 2 patients come in extremely worried because of what they described as “blood in their eye”. This condition, called subconjunctival hemorrhage, looks very red and scary but is usually harmless.
When a blood vessel on the front of they breaks, blood leaks out and fills the space beneath the conjunctiva (similar to a skin-like layer over the eye). As the blood continues to fill the subconjunctival space, it spreads and the blood can eventually pool near the bottom of the eye. This is similar to a bruise but on the eye.
This does not have any effect on vision, but you may experience mild to no discomfort. The cause can vary from sneezing, coughing, vomiting, constipation, rubbing eyes, blunt trauma, underlying health conditions, or blood thinners. There is no treatment needed, because similar to a bruise, it usually clears up on its own in 1-3 weeks.
If you think you are experiencing a subconjunctival hemorrhage, don’t panic, but see your doctor of optometry as soon as possible.
image source: http://eyedefects.tumblr.com