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Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (Bleeding in Eye)

Questions to Ask the Doctor

  • Is there any sign of damage to the eye?
  • Will I develop any scarring or permanent vision loss from this subconjunctival hemorrhage?
  • What causes a subconjunctival hemorrhage?
  • How can I prevent a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider or eye care provider will take a concise history of the events prior to the subconjunctival hemorrhage and perform an examination. Your blood pressure may also be checked. If you’ve been evaluated by your primary health care provider initially, you may be referred to an eye care specialist.

If trauma was the cause, a more thorough examination using a slit lamp (a special microscope for examining the eye) will usually be performed.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Treatment

Self-Care at Home

Usually, no treatment is needed. Over-the-counter artificial tears can be applied to the eye if mild irritation is present.

Unless otherwise directed by your health care provider, you should avoid the use of aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxyn, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications as these can increased bleeding.

Medical Treatment

Usually, no treatment is required. Your health care provider or eye care provider may prescribe artificial tears to ease any irritation that may be present.

If the injury is related to trauma, your health care provider or eye care provider may need to examine your eye to rule out the possibility of damage to other parts of the eye.

 

Next Steps: Outlook

This condition clears by itself within one to two weeks. Usually, recovery is complete, without any long-term problems, similar to a mild bruise under the skin. Like a bruise, a subconjunctival hemorrhage changes colors (often red to orange to yellow) as it heals. A skin bruise changes to various shades of green, black and blue as it heals, because the blood is being seen though skin. Because the conjunctiva is transparent, a subconjunctival hemorrhage never has these color characteristics.

For More Information

American Academy of Ophthalmology
655 Beach Street
Box 7424
San Francisco, CA 94120
(415) 561-8500

Multimedia

Media file 1: Subconjunctival hemorrhage. Photograph courtesy of Lawrence B. Stack, MD, Vanderbilt University.

Authors and Editors

Author: Roger K George, MD, Director of Uveitis Service, Madigan Army Medical Center; Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, Oregon Health Sciences University.

Coauthor(s): David Asrael, MD, Staff Physician, Department of Emergency Medicine, Temple University; Jacob W Ufberg, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Temple University School of Medicine.

Editors: Scott H Plantz, MD, FAAEM, Research Director, Assistant Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD, Senior Pharmacy Editor, eMedicine; Robert H Graham, MD, Ophthalmologist, Robert H Graham, MD, PC; Affiliated With Department of Ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona and Carl T Hayden VA Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona.

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WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on November 05, 2013

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