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  • What is a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

    Reviewed By J Kevin McKinney, MD
    Published May. 01, 2023

    Subconjunctival hemorrhage is when one or more blood spots appear on the white of your eye. The eye’s conjunctiva contains a lot of tiny blood vessels that can break. If they break, blood leaks between the conjunctiva and sclera. This bleeding is the bright red spot that you see on the white of your eye.

    These blood spots can look scary. But a subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually harmless and often heals on its own.

    What are subconjunctival hemorrhage symptoms?

    Usually the only symptom of subconjunctival hemorrhage is a red spot in your eye. In fact, you may not know you have it until you look in the mirror. Occasionally, you may experience a very mild irritation of the eye. 

    Subconjunctival hemorrhage causes

    Coughing, sneezing, straining, or other similar actions most commonly cause subconjunctival hemorrhages. This is because they briefly raise blood pressure in your veins. That quick pressure rise can cause capillaries to break.

    Trauma to the eye can also cause subconjunctival hemorrhage. Even rubbing your eyes too hard might cause capillaries to break.

    Less common causes of subconjunctival hemorrhage include:

    • diabetes
    • high blood pressure
    • medicines that can make you bleed easily (such as aspirin or blood thinners like Coumadin)

    Rarely, subconjunctival hemorrhage is caused by a blood clotting disorder or other blood problem that affects your whole body.


    A subconjunctival hemorrhage should heal on its own without treatment. Depending on how big your spot is, this may take a few days or a few weeks.

    If your eye feels irritated, you may use artificial tears.

    If you get subconjunctival hemorrhages often, your ophthalmologist will talk with you about further testing.