Subconjunctival bleeding

Subconjunctival bleeding, also known as subconjunctival hemorrhage or subconjunctival haemorrhage, is bleeding from a small blood vessel over the whites of the eye.[1] It results in a red spot in the white of the eye.[1] There is generally little to no pain and vision is not affected.[2][3] Generally only one eye is affected.[2]

Subconjunctival bleeding
Other namesSubconjunctival hemorrhage, subconjunctival haemorrhage, hyposphagma
Human eye showing subconjunctival hemorrhage.jpg
Subconjunctival hemorrhage resulting in red coloration of the white of the eye.
SymptomsRed spot over whites of the eye, little to no pain[1]
DurationTwo to three weeks[2]
TypesTraumatic, spontaneous[2]
CausesCoughing, vomiting, direct injury[2]
Risk factorsHigh blood pressure, diabetes, older age[2]
Diagnostic methodBased on the appearance[2]
Differential diagnosisOpen globe, retrobulbar hematoma, conjunctivitis, pterygium[2]
TreatmentNo specific treatment[3]
MedicationArtificial tears[2]
PrognosisGood, 10% risk of reoccurance[2]

Natural causes can include coughing, vomiting, heavy lifting, straining to pass hard stools during acute constipation or the internal pressure of "pushing" or "bearing down" during labour/childbirth. External causes can include wearing contact lenses, direct impact/injury from an accidental bump to blunt force trauma such as a blow from a weapon or a "punch" with a fist in either a professional fight such as boxing, MMA or a confrontation resulting in a physical altercation. Risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, older age, blood thinners, and trauma. They occur in about 2% of newborns following a vaginal delivery.[2] The blood occurs between the conjunctiva and the episclera.[2] Diagnosis is generally based on the appearance.[2]

Generally no specific treatment is required and the condition improves in two to three weeks.[2] Artificial tears may be used to help with any irritation.[2] They occur relatively commonly.[4] Both sexes are affected equally.[2] Spontaneous bleeding occurs more commonly over the age of 50 while the traumatic type occurs more often in young males.[2]

Signs and symptomsEdit

A subconjunctival bleeding usually does not result in pain, although occasionally the affected eye may feel dry, rough, or scratchy.

A subconjunctival bleeding initially appears bright-red underneath the transparent conjunctiva. Later, the bleeding may spread and become green or yellow as the hemoglobin is metabolized. It usually disappears within 2 weeks.[5]


Subconjunctival bleeding in infants may be associated with scurvy (a vitamin C deficiency),[8][9] abuse or traumatic asphyxia syndrome.[10]

Eye surgery such as LASIK, and atmospheric pressure changes such as those from diving deeply in water and aircraft altitude changes.[6][7]


Diagnosis is by visual inspection, by noting the typical finding of bright red discoloration confined to the white portion (sclera) of the eye.


A subconjunctival bleeding is typically a self-limiting condition that requires no treatment unless there is evidence of an eye infection or there has been significant eye trauma. Artificial tears may be applied four to six times a day if the eye feels dry or scratchy.[11] The elective use of aspirin is typically discouraged.


  1. ^ a b c "What is a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?". American Academy of Ophthalmology. 3 July 2019. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Doshi, R; Noohani, T (January 2020). "Subconjunctival Hemorrhage". PMID 31869130. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b Cronau, H; Kankanala, RR; Mauger, T (15 January 2010). "Diagnosis and management of red eye in primary care". American Family Physician. 81 (2): 137–44. PMID 20082509.
  4. ^ a b Gold, Daniel H.; Lewis, Richard Alan (2010). Clinical Eye Atlas. Oxford University Press. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-19-534217-8.
  5. ^ Robert H. Grahamn (February 2009). "Subconjunctival Hemorrhage". Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  6. ^ a b c "Subconjunctival hemorrhage". PubMed Health on the National Institutes of Health website. May 1, 2011. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Subconjunctival hemorrhage". n.d. Retrieved October 15, 2012.
  8. ^ "Möller-Barlow disease". Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  9. ^ Bruce M. Rothschild (December 17, 2008). "Scurvy". Retrieved 23 November 2010.
  10. ^ Spitzer S. G; Luorno J.; Noël L. P. (2005). "Isolated subconjunctival hemorrhages in nonaccidental trauma". Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 9 (1): 53–56. doi:10.1016/j.jaapos.2004.10.003. PMID 15729281.
  11. ^ Robert H. Grahamn (February 2009). "Subconjunctival Hemorrhage". Retrieved 23 November 2010.

External linksEdit

External resources