What Is Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

Have you noticed red spots in your eye? Do they resemble little patches of blood on the white portion of your eye? You probably have subconjunctival hemorrhage, commonly referred to as bleeding in the eyes.

The white portion of our eyes is called the sclera. This is covered by a thin layer of moist, transparent membrane called the conjunctiva; this protective layer also acts as an outermost coating of our eyeballs.

The conjunctiva contains tiny blood vessels, which become visible only when the eyes are inflamed. These delicate blood vessels may break easily, which results in the condition known as subconjunctival hemorrhage.

The first indicator of subconjunctival hemorrhage is the presence of bright red patches on the sclera. This condition usually appears spontaneously. One may wake up one morning and look in the mirror, only to find there are red patches on the white portion of the eyes.

These tiny red spots, indicative of bleeding, occasionally results from any of the following:

  • Coughing or sneezing
  • Straining on the toilet
  • Vomiting
  • Rubbing the eyes
  • High blood pressure
  • Injury or trauma to the eyes


Other than red patches on the sclera, subconjunctival hemorrhage may be accompanied by several sensations, such as a feeling of fullness under the eyelids or mild eye irritation. There is no blood that will exit from the eye; thus, even if the patient attempts to pat down the blood with a tissue, nothing will blot out on the paper. In serious cases, the entire white portion of the eye will be covered in bright red color, indicative of bleeding.

If subconjunctival hemorrhage does not improve within two weeks, accompanied by eye pain, or coincides with gum bleeding or easy bruising, it is best to seek medical care.


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