Subconjunctival hemorrhages have various underlying causes including significant blunt trauma to the eye, minor trauma or complications from contact lens use, history of elevated venous pressure (coughing or vomiting), hypertension, history of diabetes mellitus, or bleeding disorders. It can also be spontaneous. The condition is common in the elderly due to hypertension. They are also common in newborns and may persist for several weeks. However, in infants with no verifiable history of trauma, healthcare practitioners may suspect child abuse.
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