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Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Overview

written by: Daniel Barros • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 4/16/2009

Wondering what that blood-shot eye you've had for the last few days is all about? Read on inside.

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    Subconjunctival Hemorrhage in Your Eyes

    If there’s one thing that always amazes me is that as much as I think I know about the human body, there’s still nooks and crannies that are so fascinating and many people go about their day not even thinking about it. Want an example? Here’s a great one – the conjunctiva in the eye.

    This transparent moisture-membrane is extremely thin and covers the sclera (the white of the eye). Now, this membrane is the barrier between your eye and the world – as a matter of fact, in order to get their contact lenses in every morning, many people brush their fingers along this membrane.

    Like any other protective layer, this membrane needs to be irrigated by many tiny blood vessels that run along its underside. This is the reason that your eye can turn red instead of white when you’re stressed out or have been looking at a screen for too long – thanks to those tiny blood vessels. But what happens when one of those vessels simply bursts?

    You’d think it wouldn’t be pleasant, but a subconjunctival hemorrhage (bursting of these tiny vessels) is a rare exception in the medical field – a condition that looks horrible, but doesn’t actually cause any pain – just some irritation.

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    Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Treatment

    Most interesting though, is the fact that a subconjunctival hemorrhage seem to come and go in the body. The conjunctiva isn’t able to absorb so much blood at one time, so your eye will probably be blood-shot for a week or two. This is how you know it’s different from a simple blood-shot eye – when it takes much longer to go away than it rightfully should.

    A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a simple issue – almost like an ingrown toenail or constipation – it’s nothing to get worried about. Particularly because something as simple as a stronger sneeze can cause those fragile little vessels to break.

    If your hemorrhage lasts more than two weeks – be sure to consult your ophthalmologist, he or she may be able to prescribe artificial tears if the irritation doesn’t go away. Other than that, the subconjunctival hemorrhage may look like someone just punched you in the eye, but so long as it doesn’t do more than irritate you for a while, it’s not a big issue and will go away on its own.