Everything to Know About Eye Bleeding
Read on to find out more about bleeding eyes. This article looks at the symptoms and causes of a bleeding eye, treatment options, when to contact a doctor, and more.
The main symptom of a bleeding eye is the presence of blood in the eye. A small amount of blood may appear in the white part of the eye. Depending on the cause, this may begin to spread.
You may also feel like you have something in your eye.
Other symptoms that can occur alongside a bleeding eye include:
It is important to inform your doctor of any symptoms you are experiencing, as this can help them to determine the cause of the bleeding eye.
Learn about common eye symptoms.
Eye bleeding may happen as a result of injury to the eye, such as blunt trauma or penetration of something sharp into the eye. It can also happen as a result of an underlying condition.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when tiny blood vessels in the eye’s conjunctiva break. They will appear as red spots on the white of your eye. In most cases, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is not serious and it can heal on its own.
Possible causes of a subconjunctival hemorrhage include
- trauma to the eye
- vigorous rubbing of the eye
- high blood pressure
A subconjunctival hemorrhage can also occur as a result of medications that make you bleed more easily. This includes aspirin and blood thinners.
In rare cases, you may develop a subconjunctival hemorrhage as a result of a blood clotting disorder.
Hyphema refers to blood that accumulates in the anterior chamber of the eye. This is the area at the front of the eye between the iris and the cornea.
The most common cause of hyphema is blunt eye trauma, according to a 2022 article. Around 70% of traumatic hyphemas occur in children. It most commonly occurs in males between the ages of 10–20 years, usually as a result of a sporting injury.
Possible causes of hyphema include:
- injury from a baseball, softball, basketball, or soccer ball
- paintball injury
- airbag deployment
Certain conditions increase your risk of hyphema. These include:
- von Willebrand disease
- sickle cell disease
- anterior uveitis or iritis
- juvenile xanthogranuloma
- neovascularization of the eye, which can affect people with diabetes
Some anticoagulant medications may also increase your risk of hyphema.
There are other possible causes of bleeding in the eye, such as the Valsalva maneuver (a breathing technique). It is important to contact your doctor to determine the cause of eye bleeding.
Treatment for a bleeding eye will depend on the cause of the bleeding.
If you experience a subconjunctival hemorrhage, it may resolve on its own. This can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
However, it is important to contact your doctor if you have a subconjunctival hemorrhage as a result of trauma, as you will need to rule out other complications.
Treatments for hyphema can include:
- elevating the head of your bed by at least 30º
- wearing an eye shield
- topical analgesics for pain relief
- intravenous ondansetron to control nausea
- cycloplegics to stabilize the blood-aqueous barrier
- topical steroids
Your doctor may recommend surgery if there is a risk of optic atrophy or corneal blood staining. Your doctor will advise if this is something they recommend.
It is important to contact your doctor if any of the following apply:
- trauma to the eye
- severe eye bleeding
- frequent eye bleeding
- eye bleeding that worsens or does not go away
Your doctor will be able to carry out an exam to determine the cause of eye bleeding.
Find out more about when you should see an eye doctor.
To assist with reaching an accurate diagnosis, your doctor may carry out a physical exam and take a full medical history. They may also ask you questions about your symptoms, such as:
- Is your eye painful?
- When did you first notice blood in your eye?
- What were you doing at the time the bleeding first occurred?
- Did anything happen that could have caused blood in your eye?
- Did the bleeding occur suddenly or slowly?
- Do you notice that your vision is affected?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- Are you taking any medications?
If you have experienced trauma to the eye, your doctor may order other tests to determine the extent of the injury. They will be able to explain the tests in more detail and answer any questions you may have.
A bleed in the eye commonly occurs as a result of blunt trauma, such as from a sporting injury. Wearing protective headgear during sports, in particular ball sports, can help to reduce your risk of trauma.
Certain conditions and medications may also increase your risk of hyphema or a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Contact your doctor if you have any concerns.
Depending on the cause of eye bleeding, complications can vary from almost none to permanent loss of vision. Even scarring of the eye can alter your vision, so it is important to have your eye bleeding examined promptly.
Possible complications can include:
Seeking treatment for a bleed in the eye and following your treatment plan can help reduce your risk of complications.
Here are some more frequently asked questions about eye bleeding.
Can you go blind if your eye is bleeding?
Some types of eye bleeding, such as subconjunctival hemorrhage, usually resolve itself without any lasting damage. However, severe hyphema or other complications that occur as a result of trauma to the eye can result in blindness. It is important to contact your doctor as soon as you have concerns about bleeding in the eye.
Why did I wake up with a broken blood vessel in my eye?
If you wake up with a broken blood vessel in your eye, this could be a result of coughing or sneezing through the night. However, as bleeding can also occur due to an underlying condition, it is important to seek medical advice for a diagnosis and advice on treatments.
What is the most common cause of subconjunctival hemorrhage?
The most common causes of subconjunctival hemorrhage include coughing, sneezing, and straining. However, it can also happen as a result of trauma, high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain medications.
Bleeding in the eye occurs when there is damage to the blood vessels. This can happen as a result of a cough or sneeze, trauma to the eye, or an underlying condition.
In some cases, a bleeding eye may resolve itself within a few days or weeks. However, your doctor may prescribe medication and advise on steps you can take to encourage healing.
It is important to contact your doctor if you experience eye bleeding. They will be able to carry out an exam to reach an accurate diagnosis and advise on treatments.