Infant Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a medical condition that happens when the small blood vessels located just beneath the eye ruptures. Although it can happen at any age, it typically happens to newborn infants when trauma occurs during a stressful delivery. 

Infant Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Symptoms

The most common symptoms of subconjunctival hemorrhage is a bright red or dark red patch in the white areas of the infant’s affected eye. After trauma during delivery, the eye usually shows redness right away or within a few hours. 

Sometimes the redness will cover the entire whites of the affected eye. It also may increase in severity over the next 24 hours after birth before tapering off.

Causes of Infant Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

subconjunctival hemorrhage may occur during a long, difficult labor when too much pressure is placed on the infant during contractions. 

In addition, doctors can apply inappropriate pressure and force on the infant during the labor and delivery. This is more common when birth-assisting tools are used, such as forceps or a vacuum-extraction tool.

Diagnosis of Infant Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

In most instances, a doctor can diagnose subconjunctival hemorrhage by simply looking at the infant’s affected eye. Usually, no additional tests are required. However, in some instances, the baby’s blood pressure may be taken and monitored.

Infant Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Treatment 

There isn’t usually a treatment for subconjunctival hemorrhage as it usually clears up on its own with a few weeks or so. Sometimes artificial tears are recommended to help with itchiness and pain. 

In some cases, subconjunctival hemorrhage may lead to permanent eye damage, although extremely rare. Treatment will depend upon the severity of damage. 

In other instances, a subconjunctival hemorrhage may be in addition to other, more serious birth injuries. Since  subconjunctival hemorrhage can be caused by trauma during labor and delivery, in many cases, the infant experiences other types of trauma as well, such as facial paralysis. 

Infant Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Prognosis 

As previously mentioned, the affected eye should clear on its own within a few weeks. If you don’t see any improvement during this time period, it’s important to contact your physician immediately.

Don’t be alarmed if your baby’s eyes turns yellow before clearing up. This is a normal part of the healing process as the blood is absorbed.