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Dr. Chad Kluver, O.D.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a very common cause of a red eye seen in the clinic. Many times a red eye has other symptoms associated with it, such as pain, redness or discharge. What make a subconjunctival hemorrhage unique is that many times the patient is unaware of it unless someone else points it out or they look in a mirror.

To understand it a little bit better. It’s helpful to know a little bit of the anatomy. The white of the eye is the sclera, above this layer is a thin clear layer of tissue called the conjunctiva. Within this layer there are many tiny fragile blood vessels. If one of these blood vessels happens to breaks or bursts a subconjunctival hemorrhage is created as the blood becomes trapped between those 2 layers. If this happens the eye truly appears blood red usually in one sector, or one quadrant of the eye.

There can be many causes of a subconjunctival hemorrhage including straining coughing, or heavy lifting. Trauma, and eye surgery, such as LASIK can also cause these. Patients who have high blood pressure or patients who are on blood thinners such as aspirin or Coumadin may be at a higher risk for developing them.

No treatment is needed for a subconjunctival hemorrhage, as many resolve on their own in one to two weeks without any problems. Rarely is there any pain with these, but sometimes the eye can be a little irritated or the patient may feel a little discomfort. If this happens patients can use artificial tears, as needed, for comfort. Typically, while a subconjunctival hemorrhage resolves the eye may appear to change color, just as a common bruise does. If these become a recurrent problem for the patient a blood work up may be advised to rule out any underlying clotting or bleeding problems.

BIO:  Dr. Kluver is an Optometrist with Eye Surgeons Associates and practices at our Bettendorf, IA clinic.  He focuses on providing comprehensive eye care for patients and is involved in co-managing cataract surgery patients. For more information, please see our website:

The material contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider.

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