A subconjunctival hemorrhage is bleeding in the eye due to a broken blood vessel underneath the conjunctiva, the clear surface of the eye. Because the blood can’t be absorbed quickly enough, it becomes trapped causing the white of the eye to become red and bloodshot.
The main symptom of a subconjunctival hemorrhage is a red spot on the white of the eye. This spot may spread and might also turn a yellowish or greenish color as it heals. The eye may also become slightly itchy. Since there is no pain or vision loss associated with a subconjunctival hemorrhage, most people would not notice they have broken a blood vessel without looking in a mirror.
The eye is filled with several tiny blood vessels. Each of these blood vessels is fragile and can break easily. A subconjunctival hemorrhage may occur spontaneously or as the result of forceful sneezing, violent coughing, or heavy lifting.
Having thin blood can increase the risk for a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This can affect individuals who:
A subconjunctival hemorrhage will typically heal on its own within one or two weeks without treatment. During this time, lubricating eye drops may help to relieve any itchiness.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage should not cause pain or vision problems. However, if subconjunctival hemorrhages are recurrent or are accompanied by pain or changes in vision, contact your eye doctor for an evaluation, as this may be a sign of a more serious condition.