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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cholakova

How to Heal a Broken Blood Vessel in the Eye?

Broken blood vessel in the eye (subconjunctival hemorrhage) is often the result of trauma, sneezing, coughing, or even minor eye irritation. In many cases, it happens unexpectedly and we rarely notice we have it until we see it in the mirror or somebody else notices it.

While often harmless and self-resolving, the sudden appearance of a bright red patch on the white part of the eye can cause concern. In this publication, we will tell you how to speed up the blood vessel healing process.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

what is subconjunctival hemorrhage - infographic

When small blood vessels beneath the conjunctiva (the transparent membrane of the eye ball) rupture and leak blood into the surrounding tissue - that's subconjunctival hemorrhage.

The broken blood vessel in the eye causes a painless red splotch in the sclera (white of the eye).

Despite the alarming appearance, subconjunctival hemorrhage tends to resolve within one to two weeks. And it goes away without long-term consequences for the eye.

Is Bloodshot Eye the Same as a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

No. Having a bloodshot eye and a subconjunctival hemorrhage is very different.

The first is a dilation of blood vessels in the eye, and the latter is a broken blood vessel in the eye.

A bloodshot eye is redness from eye irritation, dryness, eye strain, allergy, infections, opiate or smoke exposure or other eye conditions. A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a specific type of intense redness due to bleeding under the conjunctiva.

A bloodshot eye typically manifests its redness across the whole white part of the eye, where you can clearly see all the blood vessels. A broken blood vessel presents as a bright red patch on the eye, which occupies a specific area, while the rest of the sclera seems relatively normal.

broken blood vessel subconjunctival hemorrhage vs bloodshot eye redness
Top picture is subconjunctival hemorrhage. Bottom picture is bloodshot eye redness.

Healing Broken Blood Vessels in the Eye

Home Remedies and Self-Care Measures

The best way to mend a broken blood vessel in the eye at home, is to support your body heal faster on its own:

  • Take adequate rest and avoid getting an eye strain. Which means, minimize activities that may stress or tire the eyes, for instance, prolonged screen time or reading small print.

  • Applying a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the affected eye for 10-15 minutes several times a day might reduce swelling and discomfort.

  • In addition, people with subconjunctival hemorrhage should avoid rubbing or touching the affected eye. They should also practice a gentle eye hygiene to prevent further inflammation or infection.

  • Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops without preservatives or artificial tears may grant a much-needed dryness relief and soothe eye irritation. Yet, no eye drops will "magically" heal the broken blood vessels in the eye.

These remedies may facilitate faster healing, but they are not miracle treatments. The best treatment is time, and letting the body heal itself at its own pace.

Dangers of "Redness Relief" Eye Drops

Many people will look for "redness relief" eye drops (vasoconstrictive eye drops) to solve the redness. But what people rarely know is, these eye drops can potentially do more harm than good! Especially when used without medical prescription or eye doctor supervision.

Vasoconstrictive eye drops contain decongestants, causing constriction of the blood vessels, leading to a lack of oxygen. Simultaneously, the lack of oxygen may trigger the growth of new blood vessels (neovascularization).

Neovascularization is problematic because the newly formed blood vessels are abnormal and leaky. Allowing fluid and sometimes even red blood cells to enter the retina. This can distort vision and lead to retinal detachment and even blindness.

Overuse of "redness relief" eye drops may actually increase the eye redness and bleeding in patients with subconjunctival hemorrhage.

DON'T consider redness relief eye drops as an at-home treatment of subconjunctival hemorrhage. Unless you have other accompanying conditions and your eye doctor specifically prescribes them to you.

Medical Intervention

In most cases, a broken blood vessel in the eye resolves on its own. But individuals experiencing severe pain, vision changes, or recurrent episodes should seek ophthalmic evaluation.

Depending on the root cause and severity of subconjunctival hemorrhage, eye care practitioners may recommend the following interventions:

  1. Topical medications

  2. Blood pressure management

  3. Addressing underlying conditions

In extreme cases, eye doctors may prescribe special eye drops or ointments to relieve soreness, redness and reduce inflammation.

If hypertension or high blood pressure is noted as a contributing factor, doctors may suggest appropriate management and monitoring of blood pressure levels.

Addressing underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or clotting disorders is crucial to prevent complications and subconjunctival hemorrhage recurrence.

Prevention Strategies

Some instances of subconjunctival hemorrhage are avoidable, by adopting preventive measures which reduce the risk of future broken blood vessels in the eye:

  • Wear protective eyewear when engaging in activities, posing a threat of eye injury. Such activities are sports or working with hazardous materials.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, balanced nutrition, and stress management, to support overall eye health and vascular integrity.

  • Practice good eye hygiene, including routine eye checkups and proper contact lens care to minimize the risk of eye irritation or injury.

Broken blood vessels in the eye, while often benign, can be stressful for individuals who experience them. By taking self-care measures and seeking medical guidance when necessary, people can accelerate the healing process.


Checked by Atanas Bogoev, MD.


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