Consultant Ophthalmologist,
Cataract & Refractive Surgeon

BMedSci BM BS MRCS MRCSEd MRCOpth FRCOphth MMedLaw PgD Cataract & Refractive Surgery

Subconjunctival Haemorrhage

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What's going on?

A blood vessel has ruptured under the conjunctiva (the clear filmy layer at the front of your eye). The degree of haemorrhage can be quite marked, causing the conjunctiva to balloon up over the lids with no visible white eye at all. More often it is just a localized patch of red on your eye. When it happens you may not even notice it and it may take someone else to spot it. You may experience a very slight irritation when the bleed happens but after that it is quite comfortable. If you're on aspirin or warfarin this can make the bleed worse. Also if you're coughing or sneezing a lot (or even if you're constipated!), the increase in pressure around the eye when you're straining can pop a blood vessel.

What will my ophthalmologist see?

We see the area of blood under the conjunctiva.

What will my ophthalmologist do for me?

We will confirm that the cause of the redness is indeed a haemorrhage and not another more worrying condition. We can also check the eye to see if there is any underlying problem and also check your blood pressure.

What can I do?

Don't worry about it. It looks dramatic but really isn't. Getting your blood pressure checked is sensible and if you are on warfarin then it is sensible to get a blood test to make sure your blood levels are not too high.

What do I need to know?

The condition will resolve gradually over several weeks, first going yellow and then gradually fading. The haemorrhage may even spread slowly to the lower lid to form a black eye.