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    Is a broken blood vessel in eye serious?

    By NCVC Staff | Published on Sep 21, 2023

    The moment you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and notice a red patch in your eye, it’s natural to feel a sense of panic. You may be experiencing a subconjunctival hemorrhage, which occurs when a blood vessel in your eye breaks. Although the idea of a broken blood vessel in your eye sounds alarming, the question remains: is it something you should actually be concerned about? Let’s uncover the truth about subconjunctival hemorrhages and whether they require treatment.

    Understanding Subconjunctival Hemorrhages

    According to Dr. Nirati Srivastava, an ophthalmology specialist at Regency Hospital in Kanpur, a subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a small blood vessel pops behind the clear surface of your eye—similar to experiencing a bruise on your skin. The blood becomes trapped as the conjunctiva, the clear membrane covering the white part of your eye, is unable to absorb it quickly. The result is a visible redness on the white area of your eye.

    Causes of Blood Vessel Breakage in the Eye

    A broken blood vessel in the eye is usually not uncomfortable, but it can occur due to various reasons, such as:

    • Aggressive eye rubbing (the importance of avoiding eye rubbing)
    • Frequent coughing
    • Eye trauma
    • Wearing old or dirty contact lenses

    Understanding the Severity of Subconjunctival Hemorrhages

    Discovering a red patch in your eye can be worrisome, as a broken blood vessel appears to be a serious problem. However, Dr. Srivastava assures us that it may seem more alarming than it actually is. Only when symptoms extend beyond this minor annoyance should you seek medical attention. If you experience discharge, swelling, rapid changes in vision, or severe discomfort, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Discomfort in addition to the redness could be a sign of more severe symptoms, such as a hematoma—an accumulation of blood in front of the colored part of the eye. Additionally, if the damaged vessel does not clear up within two weeks, it would be wise to have it examined.

    Treatment Options for Subconjunctival Hemorrhages

    Fortunately, treatment is usually unnecessary for subconjunctival hemorrhages. In the event of irritation, your doctor may recommend the use of eye drops. Dr. Srivastava explains that most broken blood vessels heal within two weeks, although larger patches may require more time to fade. As the blood clots and dissipates, the color of the affected area may also change, resembling the fading of a bruise. If you experience swelling and irritation, applying cold compresses and using over-the-counter eye drops can help alleviate the discomfort. For the first 24 to 48 hours, try using a cold compress—simply wrap a few ice cubes in a clean cloth and gently hold it against the affected area for a few minutes at a time throughout the day. This can effectively reduce swelling and inflammation.

    So, the next time you notice a red patch in your eye without any pain or discomfort, there’s no need to panic.

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