Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging is the medical term used to describe bleeding within the eye, which causes it to look red. A thin membrane called the conjunctiva, which contains superficial blood vessels, covers the white part of our eyes (also known as the sclera) and front of the eyeball. When one of these blood vessels ruptures or the membrane is damaged, bleeding can occur in the eye between the conjunctiva and the sclera, and this is called Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging.

What causes Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging?

Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging is sometimes caused by pressure within the blood vessels, which rupture or leak. However, the condition can also result from:

  • Ageing.
  • Injury to the eye or head.
  • Coughing or vomiting.
  • Bleeding or haemorrhaging condition, such as haemophilia.
  • Use of anticoagulant medications, such as aspirin or warfarin.

As we age so do the various parts of our bodies, and the vitreous of our eyes, which form the roundness shape, starts to become more watery and can detach. These changes similarly impact the eye's blood vessels in the conjunctiva over time. Having the eyes checked regularly by an optician or referral to an ophthalmologist can help to identify any eye concerns. Certain contact sports can raise the risk of injury to the head and eye. With pressure in the head increasing with coughing and vomiting, blood vessels such as those in the eye can burst. Some people are born with bleeding conditions and therefore Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging occurs. Blood-thinning medicines sometimes increase bruising, and the eyes may become bloodshot as a result.

What are the symptoms of Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging?

Symptoms of Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging usually include a red eye, which is visible when you look in the mirror and visible to others. Seeing a red or bloodshot eye can cause worry, however, Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging is not considered harmful unless present with associated symptoms, such as throbbing pain in the eye or severe headaches. Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging by itself is not an indicator of damage to the cornea and does not cause visual loss or impairment.

How is Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging treated?

No specific treatment is normally used for Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging, and the symptoms of a red bloodshot eye usually clear up within a fortnight. Having a bloodshot eye is similar to having a bruise. Medical attention should be sought if there are additional symptoms, injury is suspected or you have bruising on other parts of your body.

Can Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging be prevented?

As Subconjunctival Haemorrhaging can occur naturally it is usually hard to prevent, however, injury to the eye can be prevented through caution, e.g. wearing protective headgear during sports. Early diagnosis and treatment for haemophilia can help manage bleeding that may also affect the eyes. Medical monitoring of anticoagulant medication use can also help prevent abnormal bleeding. If in doubt consult a medical professional for advice and have your eyes checked.

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