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Symptoms and Signs of Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (Bleeding in Eye)

Doctor's Notes on Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (Bleeding in Eye)

A subconjunctival hemorrhage describes a broken blood vessel that produces blood in between the conjunctiva and the sclera of the eye. Bright red conjunctiva or patches of bright red are the chief signs and symptoms of this type of hemorrhage. Rarely, blood may ooze through the conjunctiva and produce pink and/or red tears. In general, there is no pain, but the eye may feel full or heavy. Signs and symptoms start resolving within a few days if there is no long-term underlying cause.

Most subconjunctival hemorrhages are spontaneous without an obvious cause. However, other related causes that can result in sudden increases in pressure that can cause blood vessels in the eye to leak blood are as follows: sneezing, coughing, straining during constipation or lifting heavy objects, vomiting, eye rubbing, trauma, bleeding that follows eye surgery, high blood pressure, diabetes, arteriosclerosis, bleeding disorders (for example vitamin K deficiency) and medications such as blood thinners. In addition, underlying causes like severe infections or growths in or on the eye (tumors or cancers) may cause pressure on blood vessels, enough to cause subconjunctival hemorrhages.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.