A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a tiny blood vessel breaks just underneath the conjunctiva. Sub means under, and hemorrhage means bleeding. The event can have various causes that are harmless and require no treatment and others that warrant a visit to the doctor. Physical damage to the surface of the eye often involves the conjunctiva. Causes include thermal or chemical burns and blunt or penetrating trauma. While the extent injury may be limited to the conjunctiva, subconjunctival hemorrhage may be a result of a more serious, underlying problem. Careful evaluation, initial management, and triage of conjunctival injuries are essential to promote healing.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage may look scary but is a common condition. There are more than two hundred thousand cases per year. Treatment can help but cannot cure it. It's easily identifiable and requires no lab tests or imaging. The whole white part of the eye may turn red, or just part of it. Blood in the eye can happen at all ages. Often the causes in younger people are different than those for older adults.
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