Red Spot In Eye

People should also seek medical attention if they experience the following symptoms in addition to the red spot:

What Causes a Red Spot on Your Eye?

Troy L. Bedinghaus, OD, board-certified optometric physician, owns Lakewood Family Eye Care in Florida. He is an active member of the American Optometric Association.

Bryan Wolynski, OD, is a board-certified optometrist who has been in the field for over 30 years. He is an adjunct assistant clinical professor at SUNY College of Optometry ​and works in private practice in New York City.

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

A red spot on the eye is a relatively common finding that’s not usually a cause for concern. In fact, a subconjunctival hemorrhage —the most common cause—typically doesn’t require any treatment.

However, a red spot on the eye may be caused by a more serious condition, such as sickle cell disease or cancer. An eye health professional can diagnose the cause, and you may need treatment.

This article will discuss some of the common causes of red spots on the eye and how they are treated. It also will help you to make an informed decision about when to see a healthcare provider.

causes of red spots on the eye

The Most Common Cause of a Red Spot

A red spot on the eye is often a small blood vessel that burst open. This is called a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

There are small blood vessels underneath the conjunctiva in your eye. This is the clear coating that covers the sclera, the white part of the eye. When one of the vessels breaks, the blood is visible under the conjunctiva.

If a larger blood vessel breaks, it can look quite startling. The blood might even spread out over the entire white part of the eye.

It can be unnerving to see a large red spot in your eye. Most of the time, though, there is no pain or irritation. Most people won’t have light sensitivity, either. Light sensitivity is when bright light hurts your eyes.

The reasons for why blood vessels might pop in your eye can include physical stress but they’re not associated with emotional stress.

Among the causes are:

  • Trauma
  • Strain caused by constipation
  • Strain caused by sneezing, coughing, or vomiting
  • Lifting something heavy

Anyone can develop a subconjunctival hemorrhage, but diabetes, a disease that affects blood sugar and hypertension, or high blood pressure, are risk factors.

This condition doesn’t usually require treatment. The spot typically goes away on its own, usually within a week. If the hemorrhage is large, it may take a little longer. As it heals it may look similar to a yellowish bruise.

If the spot is large, your healthcare provider may recommend artificial tears or cold compresses. This can help you feel comfortable if there is swelling.

Sometimes red spots in the eye can have more serious causes. Even if you think your red spot is a subconjunctival hemorrhage, it is always best to see your healthcare provider, especially if it’s recurrent.

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is similar to a bruise on your skin. In your eye, however, the blood-red color is easier to see. This is because it is under the clear, transparent conjunctiva and in front of the white part of your eye.

Other Causes of Red Spots in the Eye

There are a few other conditions that your eye professional may consider if you have a red spot on your eye.

Episcleritis

Episcleritis is an inflammatory disorder of the episclera, the thin tissue between the clear conjunctiva and the white sclera. Episcleritis is acute, which means it comes on suddenly.

Episcleritis usually looks much worse than it is. Most cases of episcleritis go away on their own. About one-third of cases, though, are linked to inflammatory conditions that affect other parts of the body.

Pinguecula

A pinguecula is a common growth or thickening of the tissue that lines the outside of the eye. It can appear raised and yellow in color. It is thought to be caused by exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays or long-term irritation.

You may be unaware that you have a pinguecula. You may notice it when it becomes inflamed. This can happen if you spend a lot of time in the sun and wind.

When a pinguecula is inflamed, it is called pingueculitis. It can become red and swollen and suddenly appear on your eye.

Most of the time, a pinguecula does not need to be treated. You can have it removed surgically, though, if it causes uncomfortable symptoms. Some people also have them removed for cosmetic reasons.

Conjunctival Hemangioma

A conjunctival hemangioma is a clump of twisted blood vessels that develops on the white of the eye. This condition is almost always congenital, which means you are born with it. It usually appears a few weeks after birth. Most of the time, it will disappear as a child grows.

In rare cases, conjunctival hemangiomas can appear in adults over the age of 60. Though they are usually harmless, they should be examined once a year.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder. People with sickle cell disease have chronic, long-lasting anemia, or a decrease in healthy red blood cells. The condition also causes severe bouts of pain.

Sickle cell disease is caused by abnormally shaped hemoglobin molecules. Hemoglobin is the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. The abnormal hemoglobin can cause the cells to rupture, forming a sickle shape.

Sickle cell patients will sometimes have comma-shaped red spots or lines on the white part of their eyes. This is because the sickle-shaped blood cells may cause blockages in small blood vessels.

See also  Water Trapped In Ear

Benign and Cancerous Growths

Some growths on the eye can be serious, including:

  • Keratoacanthoma , a type of skin cancer that can form on the eye
  • Actinic granuloma , a rare skin disorder
  • Conjunctival epitheliomas , abnormal growths that form in the tissue that covers the eye

If you notice any new growths on the surface of your eye, see your eye doctor as soon as possible.

When to See Your Healthcare Provider

Do not ignore a red spot in your eye. If it lasts for longer than a few days, see your eye care professional. A comprehensive eye exam will help your provider rule out serious conditions.

Summary

A red spot in the eye is usually harmless. In most cases, it is caused by a burst blood vessel. These types of spots will usually go away without any treatment.

A red spot in the eye may have other causes, some of which are serious. Always see a healthcare provider if you have a new red spot in your eye that lasts longer than a few days.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can red spots on the eye be due to COVID-19?

Yes, it’s possible. COVID-19 infection can lead to serious eye conditions including bleeding from blood vessels in the eye. Those with an underlying condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure, are at greater risk. Pink eye (conjunctivitis) remains a common COVID symptom, especially in kids.

What causes a red spot on your eye after Lasik surgery?

Red spots after Lasik surgery are likely due to subconjunctival hemorrhage. Other eye procedures, such as laser treatment for cataracts, also can result in red spots on the eye for the same reason.

13 Sources

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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  2. Azari AA, Barney NP. Conjunctivitis: a systematic review of diagnosis and treatment. JAMA. 2013;310(16):1721-9. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280318
  3. Schonberg S, Stokkermans TJ. Episcleritis. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; 2021.
  4. Kellogg Eye Center, Michigan Medicine. Pinguecula (yellow bump on eye).
  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Pinguecula and pterygium (surfer’s eye) treatment.
  6. Padmanaban S, Sumathi P, Kandoth P, Dharmendra RP. Congenital capillary hemangioma arising from palpebral conjunctiva of a neonate. Indian J Ophthalmol. 2017;65(11):1221-1223. doi:10.4103/ijo.IJO_487_17
  7. Nattis A, Perry HD, Rosenberg ED, Cocker R. Conjunctival capillary hemangioma. Cureus. 2017;9(11):e1892. doi:10.7759/cureus.1892
  8. Lim JI. Ophthalmic manifestations of sickle cell disease. Curr Opin Ophthalmol. 2012;23(6):533-536. doi:10.1097/ICU.0b013e328358b921
  9. Oellers P, Karp CL, Shah RR, Winnick M, Matthews J, Dubovy S. Conjunctival keratoacanthoma. Br J Ophthalmol. 2014;98(2):275–276. doi:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2013-303999
  10. Yaghoob R, Ranjbari N, Feily A. Actinic granuloma. Dermatol Pract Concept. 2014;4(3):31-32. doi:10.5826/dpc.0403a04
  11. Tiutiuca C, Voicu D, Brujbu I, et al. Malignant tumors of the eyeball and its appendixes. Rev Chim. 2016;67(8):1641–1645.
  12. Sen S, Kannan NB, Kumar J, Rajan RP, Kumar K, Baliga G, et al. Retinal manifestations in patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection and pathogenetic implications: a systematic review. Int Ophthalmol. 2022 Jan;42(1):323-336. doi:10.1007/s10792-021-01996-7.
  13. Lin HY, Chuang YJ, Lin PJ. Surgical outcomes with high and low pulse energy femtosecond laser systems for cataract surgery. Sci Rep. 2021 May 4;11(1):9525. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-89046-1.

Additional Reading

  • Tarlan B, Kiratli H. Subconjunctival hemorrhage: risk factors and potential indicators. Clin Ophthalmol. 2013;7:1163-1170. doi:10.2147/OPTH.S35062

By Troy Bedinghaus, OD
Troy L. Bedinghaus, OD, board-certified optometric physician, owns Lakewood Family Eye Care in Florida. He is an active member of the American Optometric Association.

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What causes a red spot on the eye?

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A red spot on the eye may look worrisome, but it is rarely a medical emergency. Usually, a red spot on the eye occurs when blood collects under the conjunctiva as a result of a subconjunctival hemorrhage.

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A red spot on the eye, or subconjunctival hemorrhage, usually occurs when blood leaks between layers of the eye. It typically causes bright red patches over the white part of the eye.

These blood spots on the eye are often the result of increased blood pressure. In some cases, subconjunctival hemorrhages can appear without any identifiable cause.

In this article, learn what causes blood spots on the eyes and how to treat them.

red spots on the eye have several causes, treatments, and home remedies

The conjunctiva is the transparent membrane that covers the surface of the eye. The conjunctiva contains tiny blood vessels that can break or leak after sudden increases in pressure.

A person might not realize they have a subconjunctival hemorrhage until they look in a mirror. It does not cause other symptoms, such as pain, swelling, or vision loss.

Common causes of a red or blood spot on the eye include:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • vomiting
  • excess physical strain
  • injury to the eye (trauma)
  • irritation or allergic reactions
  • rubbing the eye too hard
  • infections
  • straining to go to the bathroom
  • contact lens use
  • conjunctivalchalasis (CCH)

Rare causes of subconjunctival hemorrhages include:

  • high blood pressure
  • taking a blood thinner such as aspirin or Coumadin
  • medical disorders that cause bleeding
  • diabetes

Diabetic retinopathy

Having diabetes is a risk factor for a subconjunctival hemorrhage. However, not everyone with diabetes develops diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms of diabetic retinopathy include:

  • floaters
  • blurred vision
  • reduced night vision
  • seeing colors that appear faded

People who have diabetes can reduce their risk of developing diabetic retinopathy by managing their blood sugar and blood pressure levels.

If a person is experiencing diabetic retinopathy, they may wish to consult a doctor about ways to manage underlying diabetes.

Subconjunctival hemorrhages do not usually require treatment. The healing time can vary from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the size of the spot.

People can use artificial tears to relieve irritation or dryness. Artificial tears are available in drugstores and pharmacies and online.

A doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops if the red spot is the result of a bacterial infection.

People should not be alarmed if the red spot changes colors from red to yellow or orange. This is a sign that the hemorrhage is healing. Like a bruise, it may slowly fade over time.

Subconjunctival hemorrhages usually heal over time without medical treatment.

However, people can try these home remedies to relieve uncomfortable symptoms and promote healing:

  • applying a warm compress to reduce irritation
  • applying a cold compress to reduce swelling
  • choosing not to wear contact lenses while the eye heals
  • using artificial tears to soothe itching and reduce dryness
  • avoiding rubbing the eyes

People should seek medical attention if an injury caused the blood in the eyeball or if they have a history of high blood pressure or a bleeding disorder.

People should also seek medical attention if they experience the following symptoms in addition to the red spot:

  • pain in the affected eye
  • a headache
  • discharge from the eye
  • bleeding in both eyes
  • changes in vision
  • bleeding gums
  • bruising around the eye
  • multiple subconjunctival hemorrhages

Having multiple subconjunctival hemorrhages might indicate a different underlying medical condition, such as conjunctival amyloidosis.

Conjunctival amyloidosis is a rare eye disorder that causes pink or yellow lesions on the eye or inside the eyelid. It occurs when protein accumulates inside organs and other tissues.

Conjunctival amyloidosis typically stays within the eye and does not involve other organs or tissues.

It is not always possible to prevent blood spots on the white of the eye. Some causes of subconjunctival hemorrhage are largely unavoidable.

However, a person can take steps to reduce the risk of getting blood on the white of the eye. These include:

  • Practicing diabetes care: People with any type of diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes) are at increased risk of developing these blood spots in the eye. A person with diabetes can lower their risk by managing their condition, including by keeping blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
  • Managing blood pressure: High blood pressure can increase a person’s risk of broken blood vessels in the eye. A person should follow their doctor’s instructions for medication and lifestyle changes to keep blood pressure in a healthy range.
  • Wearing protective eyewear: People who engage in sports or activities that may involve flying objects or debris should wear protective glasses or headgear to protect their eyes from injury or irritation.
  • Asking about a bleeding disorder: If the blood spots on the eye are occurring regularly, a person should talk with their doctor about the possibility of a bleeding disorder. Such disorders could increase the risk of blood leaking from the capillaries in the eye.
  • Rubbing the eye gently: Rubbing the eyes too hard can cause the blood vessels in the eye to break. If a person needs to rub their eyes, they should do so with as little pressure as possible. A person can consider using eye drops to flush the eye instead.

Although it may look alarming, a blood spot on the eye is likely to be a subconjunctival hemorrhage. Subconjunctival hemorrhages typically do not require medical treatment and will not affect a person’s vision.

People should see a doctor if they experience pain, impaired vision, or discharge coming from the eye that has the red spot.

Diabetic retinopathy may also cause a red spot on the eye. People who have diabetes can consult a doctor if they notice any changes in their vision, such as floaters or blurring.

Last medically reviewed on January 9, 2023

  • Diabetes
  • Eye Health / Blindness

How we reviewed this article:

Medical News Today has strict sourcing guidelines and draws only from peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical journals and associations. We avoid using tertiary references. We link primary sources — including studies, scientific references, and statistics — within each article and also list them in the resources section at the bottom of our articles. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Ando, T., et al. (2017). A case of conjunctival amyloidosis with repeated subconjunctival hemorrhage.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5343237/
  • Boyd, K. (2022). What is a subconjunctival hemorrhage?
    https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-subconjunctival-hemorrhage
  • Diabetic retinopathy. (2022).
    https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/diabetic-retinopathy
  • Doshi, R, et al. (2022). Subconjunctival hemorrhage.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551666/

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