Subconjunctival hemorrhage
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Subconjunctival hemorrhage

Definition

Subconjunctival hemorrhage is a bright red patch appearing in the white of the eye. This condition is also called red eye.

Causes

A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a small blood vessel breaks open and bleeds near the surface of the white of the eye (bulbar conjunctiva). It may happen without injury, and is often first noticed when you wake up and look in a mirror.

Sudden increases in pressure such as violent sneezing or coughing can cause a subconjunctival hemorrhage. The hemorrhage may also occur in persons with high blood pressure or who take blood thinners.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is common in newborn infants. In this case, the condition is thought to be caused by the pressure changes across the infant's body during childbirth.

Symptoms

A bright red patch appears on the white of the eye. The patch does not cause pain and there is no discharge from the eye. Vision does not change.

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and look at your eyes.

Blood pressure should be tested. If you have other areas of bleeding or bruising, more specific tests may be needed.

Treatment

No treatment is needed. You should have your blood pressure regularly checked.

Outlook (Prognosis)

A subconjunctival hemorrhage usually goes away on its own in about 1 week.

Possible Complications

There are usually no complications.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if a bright red patch appears on the white of the eye.

Prevention

There is no known prevention.

References

Knoop KJ, Dennis WR, Hedges JR. Ophthalmologic procedures. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 63.


Review Date: 5/1/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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