Symptoms and Signs of Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (Bleeding in the Eye)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/25/2021

Doctor's Notes on Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (Bleeding in the 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 in the eye 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 formed spontaneously 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 include

In addition, underlying causes like severe infections or growths in or on the eye (tumors or cancers) may cause pressure on eye blood vessels, enough to cause subconjunctival hemorrhages.

What Is the Treatment for a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

Treatment of any underlying disease (see above) is indicated to halt further bleeding. The following activities could trigger bleeding in the eye:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Heavy lifting or straining that may stress and rupture blood vessels

If there is no underlying disease that is triggering the bleeding, without further incidences of sneezing (for example), the eye can absorb the blood in about 1-2 weeks and no treatment is necessary. However, artificial teardrops may soothe the irritated eyes. You should see a medical caregiver if the problem reoccurs or pain occurs with the subconjunctival hemorrhage.

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