Weekly Gems from Ronda Gates.
I've always felt bad when I meet someone who appears to have had some kind of eye injury that has rendered the white of their eye blood red. It's almost impossible to make eye contact-how can the sight be ignored and how blunt can we be and be civil and/or polite. "What the heck happened to your eye? It looks ugly."
Now I have some answers, thanks to my own first ever subconjunctival hemorrhage. Although this condition often occurs spontaneously as a result of coughing, sneezing or the result of straining-as in heavy lifting, mine became apparent after I bent over to tighten a shoelace after I'd shared a walk with a friend. When I stood up I heard, "What is happening to your eye?" I thought my friend was joking but soon realized by the look on her face that she was not. We raced to my bathroom and I watched the blood I later learned was trapped under the clear conjunctival eye tissue move from the inside to the outside corner of my eye then fill until the entire white of my eye was obscured.
I raced to the computer and discovered that the underlying event was a small "broken" or ruptured vessel similar to a bruise. Like a bruise, the injury is visible, but because the thin conjunctiva tissue is clear the bleeding is more apparent. Since I didn't remember brushing my eye with my hand before or during the shoe tying incident I was perplexed. The next call was to a doc friend who told me that although a "spontaneous subconjunctival hemorrhage looks frightening it's essentially harmless and doesn't require any medical attention," although, like me, most patients call their doctor out of concern for their health of their eye. He added that in general, the condition is not typically associated with any underlying disorders although he asked me if I had high blood pressure as it's more common in folks with that diagnosis. To my knowledge I don't, but ironically my annual checkup is scheduled this week. It's more likely that it's because I downed a couple of aspirin earlier in the week. This wouldn't affect most people but as my friends know, I have a tendency to bruise easily so my guess is the aspirin probably exacerbated the blood thinning that makes bruising easy.
As is often the case, when I've shared the experience with some acquaintances I've heard, "Oh, I've had that before," followed by a stories that remind me, once again, that my experience isn't so unique after all. I've also learned that this painless, no change in vision injury, like a bruise, heals slowly and I should expect the blood red horror to naturally absorb in one to three weeks. Meantime I'll be wearing sunglasses rain or shine and am going to have one of those wonderful learning experiences since life tomorrow includes air travel and the start of a conference where I'll get those "what happened to you?" looks I've divvied out myself. And, you can bet that when I learn more about the underlying cause of my experience I'll share the learning with you.
Meantime, beware of the medicines, herbs and supplements that because they prevent coagulation of blood (by inhibiting the liver's production of vitamin K) are called "blood thinners.". Classically, in addition to aspirin and the prescription drugs (coumadin is the most used to prevent clots), you should be aware that Ginkgo, Ginseng , Ginger, and Red Clover work by thinning blood, which increases blood flow to the brain (and the eye).
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