All you will ever need to know about bloodshot eyes

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Posted by Dr. Boombatz ( on May 30, 2001 at 08:04:32:

In Reply to: Not CH related but has anyone seen this? posted by Frank on May 29, 2001 at 21:12:41:


I get these a lot myself. I have researched it ad nauseum. The cause is almost always physical trauma or allergies. It is not serious and it is not related to high blood pressure. Please read the following:

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Common Complaint

One of the most common eye problems seen routinely by the eye care professional is a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

The conjunctiva is a thin sheet of transparent tissue which covers the white of the eye. It is a well vascularized tissue, loaded with the tiny blood vessels that are too small to see. Only when the eye is inflamed will these vessels dilate and be visible as a "bloodshot" eye. Occasionally, one of these vessels can rupture and bleed into the space between the conjunctiva and the sclera. This bleeding produces a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually painless or associated with only a slight scratchy sensation. Commonly, the affected individual doesn't even realize that they have developed one until someone mentions it to them or they look into a mirror. The hemorrhage may be localized or can completely cover the white of the eye.

The usual causes of these hemorrhages include coughing, sneezing, heavy lifting and straining or mild ocular trauma (just simply rubbing of the eye while sleeping). The source of the blood is usually a small, normal blood vessel which was stressed and ruptured. The condition is never associated with a decrease in vision or significant pain and discomfort. The presence of these symptoms suggest a more serious problem which requires urgent attention.

Only a small amount of blood is required, significantly less than one drop, to produce a nasty looking eye. However, the condition is very rarely associated with any serious medical problem. It was once thought that high blood pressure was associated with recurrent subconjunctival hemorrhages. However, more recent studies do not support this relationship. Certain conjunctival tumors can lead to recurrent hemorrhages, but again, these are rare. Abnormalities in the ability of a person's blood to clot can lead to recurrent bleeds, but there are usually associated complaints of easy bruisability and hemorrhages elsewhere in the body.

So, unless the vision is decreased, the eye is painful or the hemorrhages are recurrent, there is no need to further evaluate patients with this common problem.

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