"Bloodshot" Eye

Written by editor
December 28, 2016

Not uncommonly, patients call in noting a "bloody" eye that seemed to come out of nowhere. Either they look in the mirror and are surprised, or a friend/family member notices the new redness.  While vision is not changed and the eye remains painless, the sight of blood consistently alarms patients. What is going on?

For the majority of cases with a painless and reddened eye, patients have a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Essentially a small blood vessel just above the "white" of the eye has broken, releasing a small amount of blood.  Risk factors for developing a subconjunctival hemorrhage include heavy lifting, constipation (think straining), coughing, and blood thinner usage.  Fortunately, the blood gradually reabsorbs in a few weeks. While any new bleeding should be examined, subconjunctival hemorrhage's bark is worse than its bite.

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