Subconjunctival Hemorrhage: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is painless bleeding that appears as a bright red or dark red patch on the sclera (the white portion of the eye). Since there is no pain or discomfort associated with the bleeding, these may be first apparent when looking in the mirror or may be first noticed by another person. The red patch of visible bleeding is typically the only sign or symptom.

Causes of subconjunctival hemorrhage

A subconjunctival hemorrhage (bleeding under the conjunctiva) is caused by the rupture of one of the small blood vessels in the conjunctiva, the lining tissue of the eye. Most subconjunctival hemorrhages occur without an obvious cause for the bleeding. Certain conditions can occasionally result in a spontaneous subconjunctival hemorrhage, including sneezing, coughing, straining, vomiting, eye rubbing, or inserting contact lenses. Increasing pressure in the veins of the head (such as when lying on an inversion table or weightlifting) can increase the risk for subconjunctival hemorrhage. Other causes can include infections of the conjunctiva or medical conditions that cause bleeding or prevent normal blood clotting. Trauma to the head or eye can also result in subconjunctival hemorrhage.

Other subconjunctival hemorrhage symptoms and signs

  • Bright Red Area in the White of the Eye
  • Eye Redness
  • Red Patch in the Eye
  • Ruptured Blood Vessel in the Eye


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