Dear Doctor: This morning, when I looked in the mirror, I noticed I had a big, red bloodspot in the white part of my eye. I don’t remember injuring my eye. How did this happen?
Most likely, you are suffering from a condition known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This is a surprisingly common occurrence. Fortunately, the vast majority are completely harmless.
It is caused by the leaking of a small blood vessel under the membrane that covers the white portion of your eyeball. As long as you’re not experiencing any other adverse effects, such as changes in your vision, pain/discomfort, or swelling around the eye, you should be fine. Most cases of a subconjunctival hemorrhage will resolve completely on their own within one to two weeks.
The majority of the cases of subconjunctival hemorrhage are without any recognizable cause. However, sneezing, coughing, vomiting, straining hard on the toilet, or rubbing the eye vigorously are also known causes.
One may experience the same blood spots on the skin of the face, too, after such strenuous activities. Sometimes the medications that you are taking may cause you to be more prone to developing a subconjunctival hemorrhage. These include steroids and/or blood thinners.
If you still have any questions, changes in your vision, swelling, pain/discomfort, or if this occurs on a regular basis, you should certainly consult with your physician.
Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD is a board certified dermatologist and Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He also has a private practice in Eagan, MN. He has been selected as one of the top 10 dermatologists in the U.S. by Black Enterprise magazine and one of the top 21 African American physicians in the U.S. by the Atlanta Post. Dr. Crutchfield is an active member of the Minnesota Association of Black Physicians, MABP.org..