Bleeding Behind The Eye: Risk Factors

The official term for bleeding behind the eye is “Subconjunctival Hemorrhage”. Most of the time, it’s a painless symptom.

There are many medical conditions that can cause this. For example, people with high blood pressure are at a higher risk for subconjunctival hemorrhages.

Additionally, things like smoking or physical trauma can be the cause. In this article, we’ll talk more about what this symptom is, followed by show you ways to prevent it. Let’s get started!

What Are Subconjunctival Hemorrhages?

As we mentioned, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is when there’s bleeding behind the eye. Since the conjunctiva doesn’t have to ability to quickly soak up excess blood, it becomes trapped there.

Most people don’t know that they have this symptom until they start seeing red on the whites of their eyes.

Most of the time, this condition is harmless. It typically lasts for two weeks without causing any additional symptoms.

In rare cases, it may be caused by a serious underlying medical condition.

What Causes It?

There’s no single cause for subconjunctival hemorrhages. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Coughing violently
  • Chronic sneezing
  • Powerful sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Lifting heavy things
  • Eye injuries

Eye surgery or severe infections can also cause blood to build up behind the conjunctiva.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Are you taking blood thinning medications? If so, you’re at a higher risk for developing bleeding behind the eye. Minimize your intake of warfarin or aspirin and your symptoms should go away.

People with chronic bronchitis are also at a higher risk. Why? Because patients with this condition tend to cough violently and frequently.

Finally, people with high blood pressure and/or diabetes are especially susceptible to subconjunctival hemorrhages.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Blood vessel damage in the eyes can be caused by a condition known as diabetic retinopathy. The vessels slowly become weaker, until eventually, a hemorrhage occurs.

As its name implies, this condition is present in people who have diabetes – type 1 and type 2. If you fail to control your blood pressure, then you’re at a higher risk for developing diabetic retinopathy.

Aside from bleeding behind the eye, it can also lead to vision problems. Vision degradation happens gradually with this condition. Over time, it can even cause blindness.

Therefore, you should get it treated as quickly as possible. People with this condition may also experience blurry vision or dark areas in their vision. How is it treated?

The first step is to get an official diagnosis from your doctor. Once you’ve done that, one (or both) of the following treatments will be required:

  • Focal Laser Treatment: During the first few weeks of treatment, your vision may become blurrier. Don’t worry- this will go away eventually. Focal laser treatments are a great treatment option for treating bleeding behind the eye due to diabetic retinopathy.
  • Scatter Laser Treatment: This straightforward procedure is used to shrink the blood vessels in your eyes. Your doctor will target vessels that are larger than they should be. About three sessions of this treatment will be required for optimal results.

Is it possible to prevent diabetic retinopathy? Absolutely. Firstly, start by getting more exercise (120 minutes/week minimum) and eating healthier.

Avoid simple carbs like breads and cereal and replace them with fruits and vegetables. If you’re smoking, then stop as soon as possible. The compounds in tobacco are proven to damage blood vessels (including eye vessels).


Subconjunctival hemorrhages can also occur in people who have glaucoma. Glaucoma is a painful condition that causes severe eye pressure.

In turn, this increases the pressure within the vessels of the eye. Eventually, these vessels burst and this leads to bleeding behind the eye.

Vision loss is also a common side effect of having glaucoma.

In patients with glaucoma, vision loss is a gradual process. It happens over the course of many years.

As it becomes more advanced, patients will begin to lose their peripheral vision.

Vomiting and nausea are also common symptoms of this disease. Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate the pressure associated with glaucoma:

  • Medicated Eye Drops: These are designed to help reduce pressure in the eye. Using them as directed should decrease your risk of subconjunctival hemorrhages.
  • Carbonic Anhydrates Inhibitors: These are specialized drugs that can be very helpful at moderating pain in glaucoma patients.

Just like diabetic retinopathy, there are ways to decrease your risk of developing glaucoma.

Start by reducing your caffeine intake. Drink plenty of water, exercise, and eat healthier.

It sounds cliché, but these lifestyle changes are crucial for optimal health.

High Blood Pressure and Eye Bleeding – The Link

The best thing you can do to prevent bleeding behind the eye is to lower your blood pressure.

Hypertension puts you at a high risk for a variety of diseases (not just eye problems).

High eye pressure can be safe or it can cause optic nerve damage (glaucoma).

For instance, people with high BP are more likely to die from strokes and/or heart attacks.

Obviously, it’s something you must fix. Remember that the blood vessels within the eye are delicate.

It doesn’t take much pressure to make them burst open. With ocular hypertension, the blood presses against vessel walls 24 hours a day.

Eventually, the walls can no longer hold the blood, and so it breaks open. Minor eye hemorrhages like this are typically asymptomatic.

What’s the best way to lower your blood pressure? We recommend getting on a plant-based diet. Start eating more plant foods and fewer animal foods. Over time, your blood pressure will begin to decrease naturally.

Very rarely will this strategy not work. In fact, people who adopt plant-based diets are often able to stop taking blood pressure medication. Make sure to bring this up during your next visit to the doctor.

Avoid Straining

As we mentioned earlier, excessive straining can lead to bleeding behind the eye.

Cut back on lifting heavy things without help.

Doing this can be unhealthy in numerous ways, including increasing your hernia risk.

People who lift heavy weights daily are at a higher risk for developing subconjunctival hemorrhages.

If this symptom isn’t being caused by an underlying medical problem (like diabetes or hypertension), then it should go away on its own.

Chronic Sneezing

People with allergies tend to sneeze far more than the average person. This chronic sneezing can cause the blood vessels in your eyes to burst.

Determine what your allergens are and then do your best to avoid them.

For instance, if you’re allergic to pet hair, then you may want to consider bathing your pet with anti-dander shampoo.

This should help reduce your allergies dramatically.

By sneezing less, you’ll be less likely to cause blood vessel breakage in the eyes.

Bleeding Behind the Eye – Summary

To summarize, subconjunctival hemorrhages aren’t life-threatening. However, they can be a sign of a more serious problem.

If you notice this symptom, it’s time to think about your health. Are you diabetic? Do you have high blood pressure?

If so, this could be the cause for your bleeding behind the eye.

Speak with your doctor about ways to treat your diabetes or high BP. They’ll likely prescribe you medication, but you may be able to cut back on these by adopting healthier lifestyle habits.

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