Acute Red Eyes
8 min read

Subconjunctival Haemorrhage

Published on
December 4, 2023
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This is a common and often quite alarming condition that results in the appearance of blood on the white of the eye. Itis frequently painless but certain activities or blood conditions can predispose someone to having an episode. If you have what appears to be a sub-conjunctival haemorrhage, especially if it is recurrent, you should have your eye checked by your optometrist.

A sub-conjunctival haemorrhage occurs when one of the small blood capillaries under the conjunctiva – the thin layer of clear tissue on the surface of the eye – has a small leak. Even though it is only a small quantity of blood, it spreads under the conjunctiva and looks very alarming. Often patients are not aware of the bleed until they see themselves in the mirror!

Very red eye, showing bleeding beneath the conjunctiva.
Complete, subconjunctival haemorrhage covering all quadrants of the bulbar conjunctiva.

In most patients these sub-conjunctival haemorrhages occur by chance and have no underlying cause. Heavy lifting or vomiting can cause them to occur, however, and certain blood-thinning medications or blood conditions such as anaemia can make you more likely to have one. Other more serious conditions can cause a similar appearance in the eye, so the presence of one should prompt a check by your optometrist, especially if there is pain or loss of vision.

A sub-conjunctival haemorrhage does not require treatment and will naturally heal itself, like a bruise, in 1-2 weeks. The blood may discolour or settle towards the bottom of the eye during this time.

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