Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

A subconjunctival hemorrhage (SCH) is a common benign condition that occurs when tiny blood vessels break just under the clear surface of the eye (conjunctiva). It is similar to a bruise on the skin. The conjunctiva can’t absorb blood very quickly, so the blood gets trapped. It may look scary, but it is usually harmless.

There are two categories of SCH:

  1. Traumatic-this is when a physical trauma or injury to the eye occurs it should be evaluated immediately by a medical professional
  2. Spontaneous-this usually occurs for no apparent reason. Risk factors for this type of SCH often will include:
  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven, and aspirin
  • Strong sneezing
  • Straining
  • Powerful coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Blood clotting disorders

A patient with frequent SCH or if it hangs on longer than two weeks or if there is pain, vision problems, or blood within the colored part of the eye should be evaluated for other possible causes.

Most times SCH will heal on its own. Depending on the size of the red area it may take a few days to a few weeks to clear up. There is no way to speed up the healing process. Ice packs and over-the-counter artificial tears can help ease any swelling or discomfort.

Some causes of SCH can be prevented:

  • Wearing protective eyewear during sports or activities that involve flying debris.
  • Controlling high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Checking for bleeding disorders









Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *