subconjunctival hemorrhage

This is an extremely red eye that occurs when a blood vessel on the surface of the eye ruptures. The white part of the eye (the sclera) is covered by a very thin layer of skin called the conjunctiva. You can see this skin when looking in a mirror, as red blood vessels course through it and look like “lines” on the eye. If one of these blood vessels bursts for some reason, such as after a cough or sneeze, blood will track underneath the conjunctiva and make the eye look extremely red. It only takes a few drops of blood to make the eye look bright red and this can look quite alarming in the mirror. A subconjunctival hemorrhage is almost always harmless, but warrants a check to make sure there is no bleeding inside the eye (a hyphema or vitreous hemorrhage) and to make sure the cornea isn’t drying out.

Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge through this website! It is awesome!! I am in graduate school to obtain my Nurse Practitioner license and have been charged with presenting a lecture on referable emergent, urgent and non-urgent eye conditions versus eye conditions that can be treated outside of the Ophthalmologists office.
    Your site has enhanced my understanding of many conditions, enabling me to elevate fellow students knowledge and comfort level when caring for a patient with an eye complaint.


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