It's an alarming experience to glance in the mirror and see that one of your eyes is bright-red with blood. It's likely you've seen this condition on another person at some point in your life, but you're not exactly sure what it is, and you don't know if it's serious or not. If you've just noticed a pool of blood in your eye, read on to learn when it's necessary to visit a doctor or a place like the Advanced Retinal Institute Inc.
Where Is The Bleeding?
There are two conditions associated with blood in one of the eyes -- subconjuctival hemorrhages and hyphema. The location of the blood in your eye will determine which of these conditions you have.
If the blood is confined to the white of your eye alone, then you're experiencing a subconjuctival hemorrhage, and you likely don't have anything to worry about. If the blood in your eye is pooling in your iris (the colored part of your eye), however, then you've got a hyphema and you need to see a specialist right away.
About Subconjuctival Hemorrhages
Your cornea is the outermost, clear layer of your eye, and beneath that cornea is the conjunctiva. When a tiny blood vessel in the conjunctiva breaks, the blood is trapped between it and your cornea. The result is a bloody patch or spot noticeable on the white part of your eye. Subconjuctival hemorrhages usually resolve themselves in 2 - 3 weeks as the eye gradually absorbs the pooled-up blood.
This condition is painless, poses no long-term health threats, and requires no treatment.
Hyphema happens when blood accumulates in the anterior chamber of the eye. Your eye's anterior chamber is the space between its cornea and iris. Your cornea and iris both play an essential role in your vision, so hyphema can lead to vision impairment or blindness and should be treated right away.
Sufferers of hyphema may or may not experience pain as pressure builds up in the eye. They may also experience sudden loss of vision, light sensitivity, and/or a bulging or swelling of the affected eye.
If there is only minor pooling in your anterior chamber, hyphema will sometimes resolve itself, as long as you limit ocular movement to prevent further bleeding. Your ophthalmologist can instruct you on how to limit eye movement.
If there is extensive blood pooling in your anterior chamber, however, you may need surgery to remove the blood and prevent further bleeding.
Like subconjuctival hemorrhages, hyphema is usually the result of an eye injury or medicinal side-effect; but unlike subconjuctival hemorrhages, it can also be caused by far more serious conditions, such as leukemia or tumors of the eye.
Not On Meds And Didn't Injure Eye
While hyphema can be caused by a life-threatening condition, don't panic just because you aren't on any medications and don't remember injuring your eye. Your eyes are extremely fragile organs, and thus can be damaged very easily. A blood vessel in the eye can rupture with a big sneeze, a coughing fit, moderate lifting, vomiting, or even just from rubbing your eyes a little too hard.
It can also take up to 5 days for pooling blood to appear in your eye, so there's a very good chance you never even noticed the point in time when your eye was injured.
If you've just noticed a pooling of blood in your eye, it may be nothing to worry about, but it also may require immediate medical attention. If you experience the symptoms of a subjunctival hemorrhage, monitor your eye closely and call a doctor if the spot gets bigger or bleeds into your iris. If the pooling blood is already visible in your iris, however, then you need to get to an ophthalmologist right away.