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The conjunctiva is the clear mucous membrane which covers the white portion of the eye (sclera). It protects and lubricates the eye. The conjunctiva contains many small, fragile blood vessels. Rupture of one of these small blood vessels results in a red “blotch” on the front of the eye. This is known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

In most instances, there are no symptoms. Commonly, a person becomes alarmed with the sudden appearance of a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Fortunately, this rarely indicates a serious problem. The hemorrhage fades over the next few weeks.

The causes of a subconjunctival hemorrhage include straining, heavy lifting, sneezing, coughing, stooping or mechanical trauma. These activities raise the pressure inside the conjunctival blood vessels which in turn may rupture. Occasionally, it is associated with high blood pressure or a bleeding disorder. An evaluation by your ophthalmologist will rule out these two serious causes.

No treatment is needed for this condition.

In conclusion, a subconjunctival hemorrhage is a common condition which rarely represents a problem. An evaluation by an ophthalmologist is recommended to make certain no other problems exist. Explanation of this condition to a patient helps ease their concerns.