We’ve all had irritated, bloodshot eyes at one time or another, perhaps from too little sleep, allergies, or dry eyes. The thin pink or reddish lines typically go away with eye drops, or a good night’s rest, or by taking precautions against the causes of your allergies or dry eyes.
But have you ever experienced a bright red spot on the white part of your eye that lingers for days? They can sometimes appear after being poked in the eye, or even after vigorously rubbing your eyes or repeatedly coughing or sneezing. These spots are different from bloodshot eyes as they are actually broken blood vessels in your eye.
When these red spots occur, people typically have three questions:
a) What caused the blood vessel to break?
b) Is it harmful to my eye?
c) How can I make the red spot go away?
Causes & Treatment of A Broken Eye Blood Vessel
A broken blood vessel in your eye is also known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage. The conjunctiva is the thin membrane that covers the front of your eye, and the sclera is the thick white outer layer of your eyeball. When any of the tiny blood vessels in the conjunctive break, the bleeding appears as a bright red spot on the sclera, or the white of your eye.
While these broken blood vessels can look alarming, subconjunctival hemorrhages are usually harmless and often heal on their own. In fact, in most cases, you probably wouldn’t know you had a broken blood vessel in your eye until you looked in the mirror or until someone pointed it out to you. Occasionally, you may experience a very mild irritation or itching of the eye.
Some of the more common causes of broken blood vessels in the eye include:
- Trauma to the eye
- Foreign object in the eye
- Rubbing the eye
- High blood pressure
- Medications such as aspirin or blood thinners like Coumadin
Sometimes broken blood vessels in your eye can be prevented. For example, you should wear protective eyewear during athletic events or other activities that might cause eye injuries, or whenever you might be exposed to flying particles like debris or dust—including when doing house or yard work.
While these broken blood vessels usually heal on their own with time, it’s a good idea to contact schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. In most cases, a simple eye exam is enough for an eye doctor to properly diagnose a broken blood vessel, but he or she will want to be sure that damage has not occurred to other structures in your eye.
If the cause of your broken eye blood vessel is unknown, or if broken blood vessels aren’t just a rare, one-time occurrence, your doctor may perform a series of tests to rule out other eye conditions that may be causing the bleeding or that may affect how easily your blood clots.
Your eye doctor will ask you about your medical history, including medications you take on a regular basis, and about any activities that may be causing broken blood vessels in your eyes. Treatment of an undiagnosed medical condition can prevent future symptoms such as broken blood vessels.
In the meantime, lubricating eye drops may help relieve any minor irritation you may feel. Avoid “redness relieving” or “whitening” eye drops as these cause blood vessels to constrict and can cause a rebound reddening effect.
In truth, it will just take time for the blood to be reabsorbed and the red spot to go away. Depending on the size of your broken blood vessel, this may take a few days or even a two or three weeks.
Baptist Eye Surgeons is an ophthalmological practice in Knoxville, TN, and Morristown, TN, that specializes in routine eye conditions for conditions such as broken blood vessels, as well as treatment of eye diseases like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts. To meet our doctors and learn more about our specialities, visit our website or give us a call at 865-579-3920 for more information, or conveniently schedule an appointment online.