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General Practice 2023

Subconjunctival hemorrhage: symptoms, causes and treatment

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Subconjunctival hemorrhage: symptoms, causes and treatment
Subconjunctival hemorrhage: symptoms, causes and treatment

Subconjunctival hemorrhage is eye bleeding that occurs when the superficial blood vessels of the conjunctiva rupture, causing a red spot to appear on the white part of the eye, which looks like fresh blood.

Usually, subconjunctival hemorrhage, also called eye effusion or hyposphagma, is caused by trauma to the eye, such as rubbing the eye when a speck falls, or when wearing contact lenses, but it can also occur due to use of anticoagulant drugs or even for he alth problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

In most cases, subconjunctival hemorrhage is not a serious condition, and it disappears spontaneously after a few days, however, it is recommended to consult an ophthalmologist so that the diagnosis is made and the most appropriate treatment is indicated, if necessary.


Main symptoms

The main symptom of subconjunctival hemorrhage is the appearance of a red spot of blood in the white part of the eye, due to the rupture of the blood vessels of the conjunctiva.

Typically, subconjunctival hemorrhage does not cause pain or changes in vision, such as blurry or blurred vision, as it does not reach the innermost parts of the eye. However, in some cases, one may have the sensation of a foreign body in the eye.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of subconjunctival hemorrhage is made by the ophthalmologist through the evaluation of symptoms, he alth history, use of anticoagulant drugs and ophthalmological examination to analyze the structures of the eye.

Additionally, the doctor may evaluate the affected eye by performing a fluorescein slit-lamp examination, which is a type of dye, to look for eye trauma or other conditions that may have caused the subconjunctival hemorrhage. Check out the main eye exams that can be performed by the ophthalmologist.

Causes of subconjunctival hemorrhage

Subconjunctival hemorrhage is caused by a rupture of the superficial blood vessels of the conjunctiva, which is a thin, transparent membrane that covers the white part of the eye, due to a fragility of these blood vessels or trauma to the eye.

Some factors can increase the risk of subconjunctival hemorrhage, such as:

  • Rubbing the eye hard;
  • Use of contact lenses;
  • Excessive straining when sneezing, coughing, vomiting or having a bowel movement;
  • Intense physical exercise;
  • Use of anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin or acetylsalicylic acid;
  • Use of drugs to treat cancer, such as interferon;
  • Diabetes;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Eye or eyelid surgery.

In addition, serious eye infections can also lead to subconjunctival hemorrhage.

How the treatment is done

Subconjunctival hemorrhage does not always need treatment, as the blood in the white part of the eye is naturally absorbed by the body within 1 to 2 weeks. For people on anticoagulant treatment, recovery can take up to 3 weeks.

However, depending on what caused the subconjunctival hemorrhage, the size of the bloodstain in the eye, and its severity, the ophthalmologist may recommend using cold water compresses on the affected eye for 5 to 10 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day, or use artificial tears to speed healing and lessen discomfort. In some cases, the ophthalmologist may also recommend the use of corticosteroid eye drops.

Also, to speed recovery, the doctor may recommend rest and avoid exertion or intense physical exercise, and avoid scratching or rubbing the eye.

It is also important that people with diabetes or high blood pressure follow up with their doctor to treat these he alth problems and avoid subconjunctival hemorrhage or other complications.

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