A Subconjunctival hemorrhage (SCH) is a common type of eye bleed that occurs when a blood vessel is broken. The blood can appear in the whites of the eyes.   In most cases, it is harmless and goes away on its own.

SCH maple grove. eye doctors at pearle vision

Doctors do not know what causes a burst blood vessel in the eye, but it can occur due to the use of contact lenses, an injury, or intense exercise or straining.The sclera has many minute blood vessels that can break and bleed easily. They are protected by the conjunctiva, which is a thin, transparent layer of tissue that covers the eye. When a blood vessel breaks, blood pools under the conjunctiva, meaning it is visible but trapped under this layer of tissue. Some people have an increased risk of SCH due to a medication or health condition.

Usually, a burst blood vessel in the eye is harmless. In most cases, the mark on the eye will go away on its own with time, as the blood naturally disperses.  The eye may be red for a while, but this should begin to fade over the next 1-2 weeks.  Occasionally, SCH can be a sign of an underlying condition. This is more likely if the bleeding is persistent or recurs often.

The main symptom of SCH is a red patch appearing on the white of the eye.

At first, the patch may be an opaque red with clear borders, before becoming faded and less distinct. The eye may develop a bruised or yellow appearance as the hemoglobin and other blood components break down.

Usually, SCH is painless and does not affect vision, although it may cause a swollen or scratchy feeling. It typically only affects the whites of the eyes, not the iris or pupil.  Doctors categorize the potential causes of SCH into 2 groups, traumatic and spontaneous.

In this context, the word “traumatic” refers to a physical trauma or injury that affects the eye, causing a small blood vessel to break. Foreign objects getting into the eye or harsh rubbing of the eyes are some common examples.

Another common cause of this type of injury is the use of contact lenses. As contact lenses have become more popular, the incidence of traumatic SCH has also increased.

This can occur by accident when applying or removing the lens or due to issues with the lens itself, such as surface deposits or defects that may cause friction.

If people use disposable contact lenses for longer than the manufacturer advises, this may also contribute to SCH. This is because the materials in these lenses start to break down at the edges over time, causing rougher edges.  DO. NOT. DO. THIS.

In addition, people who wear contact lenses can sometimes develop eye conditions that disrupt the flow of tears, causing inflammation or dryness.

Conditions that lead to eye rubbing, such as dry eye syndrome, allergies, and blepharitis, can also be contributing factors. These conditions cause eye discomfort and then eye rubbing, which can be involuntary or during sleep and can cause the blood vessels to burst.

According to research, in almost half of all cases, doctors do not identify a cause of SCH. Experts call these cases spontaneous or idiopathic, because they occur for no apparent reason, or when blood pressure suddenly increases, which can happen when someone coughs, vomits, or takes part in strenuous exercise, such as lifting heavy weights.  In most cases our doctors would not recommend using ‘red eye remover’ drops Read more about Red Eye Remover Drops

Some health conditions can also be responsible for a burst blood vessel in the eye. Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) can cause this to happen even if a person is taking medication to manage the condition. Other vascular disorders, such as Diabetes and Hyperlipidemia, can also increase the risk.

Some medications, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs,  and anticoagulants, such as warfarin or heparin, may also make burst blood vessels more likely.  If you are concerned about a broken blood vessel in your eye, Schedule an Eye Exam today

Bleeding Eyes Maple Grove Eye Doctors at Pearle Vision