Thursday, January 14, 2010

Blood In The Eye

When you look at your eye and see blood in the white part of the eye, this is called a "sub-conjunctival hemmorhage". This can occur in response to trauma or it can even occur randomly. Most of the time, especially if the hemmorrhage occurs in a random fashion, this is a painless event. It is not uncommon for a patient to wake up in the morning feeling normal until the patient looks in the mirror and sees the blood. This naturally becomes a cause of concern.

Here is what happens: The white part of the eye is called the sclera. It is covered with a thin and transparent membrane called the conjunctiva. Below and within the conjunctiva are many small blood vessels that have a diameter about the size of the point of a pin. It does not take much to rupture these vessels as they are very delicate. Once ruptured, the blood has to go somewhere so it spreads out until our system causes the blood to clot and the bleeding stops. Once the bleeding stops, gravity takes over and some of the blood just drains downward as well as outward. Our lymphatic system gets rid of this blood over takes up to two + weeks depending upon the amount of blood collected. The last part of the eye to clear of the blood is the part nearest to the colored part of the eye as the cornea does not have any lymphatics. Drops designed to "get the red out" won't do anything...they are designed to shrink dilated blood vessels that are engorged due to inflammation. This blood lies below the surface and it takes time for the blood to go away.

The causes can be from any cathartic event...sneezing, coughing, straining, heavy lifting, etc. It can also occur randomly without the above causes. Patients taking blood thinners can be more likely to experience the event. The event can also occur more frequently if the blood pressure is elevated. The best way to be sure of the cause and to make sure that your eyes are healthy is to see your eye doctor when the event occurs and to have your blood pressure tested.

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