Why Do I Have a Red Spot on My Eye?

A red spot on your eye might look scary, but it’s usually no big deal. There are lots of tiny blood vessels between the white of your eye and the sclera (the film that covers it). Sometimes they break.

You might not even be aware that you have a red spot -- its official name is subconjunctival hemorrhage -- until you look in a mirror. You won’t notice any symptoms like vision changes, discharge, or pain. The only discomfort you may have is a scratchy feeling on the surface of your eye.

What Causes Them?

Most happen when your blood pressure spikes due to:

Some red spots result from an injury or illness, like:

Less common causes include:

How Are They Diagnosed?

Your doctor can tell you have a subconjunctival hemorrhage just from looking at your eye.

How Are They Treated?

Most red spots heal on their own without treatment. Depending on how big it is, it may take a few days or a few weeks to go away. If it begins to feel irritating, it’s OK to use artificial tears.

Can I Prevent Them?

If you need to rub your eye, do it gently.

If a red spot keeps coming back, your doctor may:

  • Ask you questions about your general health and symptoms
  • Do an eye exam
  • Take your blood pressure
  • Do a routine blood test to make sure you don't have a serious bleeding disorder

Are There Complications?

In most cases, there are no complications. It’s rare, but a total subconjunctival hemorrhage may be a sign of a serious vascular disorder in older people.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Get treated if your red spot is caused by an eye injury.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on October 23, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Causes,” “Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Treatment,” “What Is a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?”

Mayo Clinic: “Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (broken blood vessel in eye): Diagnosis,” “Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (broken blood vessel in eye): Overview,”

Clinical Ophthalmology: “Subconjunctival hemorrhage: risk factors and potential indicators.”

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