A subconjunctival hemorrhage is eye redness that occurs when a small blood vessel breaks just beneath the tissue covering the white of the eye (conjunctiva). This may be due to a powerful sneeze, violent cough or trauma injury to the eye. As the conjunctiva only covers the white portion of the eye, the central area (cornea) is not affected so any bleeding that may occur under the conjunctiva should not affect eyesight.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is the result of inability of the conjunctiva to absorb blood rapidly, in turn trapping the blood under the clear surface and causing eye inflammation. The hemorrhage will appear redder and larger within the first 24 hours and then will slowly decrease in size as the blood is absorbed.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually a harmless condition that tends to disappear on its own within one to two weeks. In severe cases where a subconjunctival hemorrhage may be due to high blood pressure levels or a bleeding disorder, prompt medical treatment is required. 



The most common sign of a subconjunctival hemorrhage is a bright red patch that appears in the white of the eye.

Despite its outer appearance, a subconjunctival hemorrhage does not cause pain and discharge from the eye. Also, there is no change in vision, only possible feeling of discomfort on the surface of the eye.



A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a small blood vessel breaks open and bleeds within the conjunctiva. Some actions that can cause this blood vessel rupture include:

  • Violent coughing
  • Powerful sneezing
  • Heavy lifting
  • Rough rubbing of the eye
  • Vomiting
  • Eye infection
  • Trauma injury to the eye
  • High blood pressure levels
  • Vitamin C deficiency
  • Certain eye surgeries
  • Certain diseases
  • Certain medications


Risk factors

Factors that can increase the risk for subconjunctival hemorrhage include the following:

  • Having diabetes
  • Having high blood pressure 
  • Having a bleeding disorder
  • Taking certain blood-thinning medications (warfarin, aspirin)



There are usually no future health complications that can arise from a subconjunctival hemorrhage. If the condition is due to a trauma injury, medical attention may be required to assess the eye and ensure no future eye complications.



A subconjunctival hemorrhage tends to disappear on its own within one to two weeks, without the need for treatment. While there are certain medications that can help prevent blood clots, the risk of bleeding in both the white or colored part of the eye is increased.

Some individuals may choose to use eye drops such as artificial tears, to ease any discomforting feeling in the eye.

In cases where an individual is experiencing a subconjunctival hemorrhage due to high blood pressure levels or a bleeding disorder, medical treatment is recommended.





Although it is not always possible to prevent subconjunctival hemorrhages, it can help to avoid medications that can increase the risk of bleeding as well as avoid rubbing the eyes too hard in order to prevent the possibility of minor trauma to the eyes.

In cases where an individual experiences a subconjunctival hemorrhage, identifying the cause for the bleeding such as blood thinning medications or bleeding disorders, can help prevent future instances of reoccurrence.