Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on June 19, 2024
5 min read

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a red spot on your eye caused by a broken blood vessel. It might look scary, but it’s usually harmless.

Your conjunctiva – the clear membrane that covers your eye – has a lot of tiny blood vessels. When blood gets trapped beneath this layer, it’s called subconjunctival. This blood doesn’t involve the inside of your eye or your cornea, so your vision isn’t affected.

You might not even know that a blood vessel has broken until you look in a mirror and see a red dot on your eyeball. You probably won’t notice any symptoms like vision changes, discharge, or pain. You may have a scratchy feeling on the surface of your eye.

The red spot may grow over 24 to 48 hours. Then it will slowly turn yellow as your eye absorbs the blood.


These hemorrhages often happen when your blood pressure spikes because of:

Some red spots result from an injury or illness, such as:

Less common causes include:

Your odds of getting a subconjunctival hemorrhage go up as you get older, especially after age 50, because you’re more likely to get conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

What causes subconjunctival hemorrhages in newborns?

It's not uncommon for babies to have a subconjunctival hemorrhage right after birth. Experts think this might happen because your baby's body goes through pressure changes during delivery. Sometimes, infants with a subconjunctival hemorrhage also have a retinal hemorrhage. A retinal hemorrhage is bleeding in your retina.

Generally, a retinal hemorrhage in your baby's eye gets better on its own in 2-8 weeks and doesn't cause any long-term problems with vision. Your baby may be more likely to have a retinal hemorrhage if your delivery is very short, very long, or traumatic. If your baby has a retinal hemorrhage, your doctor should follow up to make sure it clears up completely.

Call your doctor if:

  • The blood in your eye doesn’t go away in 2 or 3 weeks.
  • You also have pain or vision problems.
  • You have more than one subconjunctival hemorrhage.
  • The blood is anywhere inside the colored part of your eye (iris).

Your doctor can tell that you have a subconjunctival hemorrhage just from looking at your eye. They’ll ask about your overall health, including injuries. They may also check your blood pressure and look closely at your eye with a device called a slit lamp.

You could need a blood test to make sure you don't have a serious bleeding disorder.

After your doctor visit, you may see the term "subconjunctival hemorrhage icd-10" on your paperwork. That's simply part of the coding used for medical billing and doesn't change your diagnosis.


Most red spots heal on their own without treatment. Depending on how big it is, it may take a few days or a few weeks to go away. There’s no way to speed up this process.

Your doctor will treat any injury or condition that caused your subconjunctival hemorrhage, such as medication for high blood pressure. If you have subconjunctival hemorrhages often, you doctor will look for any other conditions and treat them. 

These steps might make you feel better, especially if you have a scratchy feeling in the affected eye.

  • Use over-the-counter artificial tears.
  • Apply cold compresses or ice packs.
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.

What Is the fastest way to get rid of a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

You simply have to wait for the blood to be reabsorbed. There's no way to speed up the process. 

If you need to rub your eye, do it gently. Wear protective gear when you’re playing sports or doing activities that could cause an eye injury. Keep bleeding disorders under control.

Can you wear contact lenses when you have a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

Contact lenses can cause a subconjunctival hemorrhage. If you wear contacts and get a red spot in your eye, your contacts should be checked for any buildup, imperfections, or other problems. It's important to follow all the directions for cleaning and storing your contacts. You also need to be careful when you put your lenses in or take them out to make sure you don't injure your eye, especially if you have long fingernails. You may want to skip wearing contacts until your subconjunctival hemorrhage clears up; this will help you avoid touching or rubbing your eye. 


In most cases, there are no complications. It’s rare, but a total subconjunctival hemorrhage may be a sign of a serious vascular disorder in older people.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage will usually go away without causing any vision problems. It happens again about 10% of the time in most people, and more often in those who take medications like blood thinners. Your eye might feel scratchy or irritated. Over-the-counter artificial tears can help soothe your eye, and a cold compress might give you relief as well. If your eye hurts, or if you have changes in your vision, you should see a doctor. There's nothing you can do to speed the healing process. Your eye should clear up within a few weeks. 

When should I see a doctor about a subconjunctival hemorrhage? 

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually harmless. But if the blood doesn't clear from your eye within 3 weeks, you should see a doctor. Other reasons to see a doctor for this condition include: 

  • Eye pain 
  • Vision problems 
  • Blood in your iris, the colored part of your eye
  • You have more than one blood spot in your eyes

What vitamin deficiency causes subconjunctival hemorrhage?

You may be more likely to get subconjunctival hemorrhages if you don't get enough vitamin C. Many conditions can cause vitamin C deficiency, including: 

  • Anorexia
  • Poor diet
  • Alcoholism 
  • Smoking
  • Dialysis use

How do you treat a subconjunctival hemorrhage at home?

Over-the-counter eye drops may help if your eye feels scratchy or irritated. You can also use cold compresses. Avoid rubbing your eye or irritating it more.

Is a subconjunctival hemorrhage dangerous?

Subconjunctival hemorrhages are usually harmless and clear up on their own. 

How long does a burst blood vessel in the eye take to heal?

Your eye should clear up within a couple of weeks. 

Which is the best eye drop for a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

There's no specific eye drop for this condition. Artificial tears can ease the irritation. But eye drops will not help clear up the redness.