Overview

Subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a small blood vessel under the conjunctiva breaks and bleeds.  It may occur spontaneously or from coughing, heavy lifting, or vomiting. In some cases, it may develop following eye surgery or trauma. Subconjunctival hemorrhage tends to be more common among those with diabetes and hypertension.

While it may look frightening, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is essentially harmless.  The blood becomes trapped underneath the clear conjunctival tissue, much like a bruise.  The blood is visible because it shows through the thin, clear conjunctiva.  The blood naturally absorbs within one to three weeks and no treatment is required.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Red, bloody patch on the white of the eye
  • Painless
  • No change in vision

Detection and Diagnosis

Most patients notice the subconjunctival hemorrhage when looking in the mirror, or friend or family member points it out.

Treatment

Although it may look like an emergency, a subconjunctival hemorrhage does not affect the vision and no treatment is required.