Causes of a Red Spot on Eye

Updated on March 12, 2018
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Dani is a writer and actress who loves to learn and share tips and information to help others.


Your eyes are some of the most vulnerable parts of your body. Finding a red spot on your eye can be very alarming, especially when you don't know what caused it. Red spots on the eye are called subconjunctival hemorrhage, which is basically bleeding in the eye. Most of the time, the bleeding happens spontaneously. Subconjunctival hemorrhages are painless, usually harmless, and do not cause any light sensitivity or vision loss. They are very common and will usually clear up in about a week.


What Exactly Is Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

The white part of the eye is known as the sclera. The sclera contains tiny blood vessels all over. There is a clear coating that protects the sclera called the conjunctiva. Subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when there is some type of trauma to the sclera, causing the tiny blood vessels to rupture. The blood gets trapped under the conjunctiva causing the red spot on the eye. The spots are usually small, but sometimes can be very large, and in rare cases, cover all or most of the sclera.

According to Martha A. Simpson, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine, the definition of a subconjunctiva hemorrhage is:

"The white area of the eye is covered by a delicate, transparent membrane known as the conjunctiva. Since the small blood vessels that break open and bleed in this condition are located underneath this conjunctiva, the word “sub” is used to connote “below.” Hemorrhage means the escape of blood from a vessel. Hence, the two terms together -- subconjunctival hemorrhage -- mean bleeding below the conjuctiva."

What Causes Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?

Most cases of subconjunctival hemorrhage are spontaneous and comes from a random event such as sneezing or coughing. It can also be caused by more serious, non-spontaneous events also. Some of the spontaneous causes are:

  • sneezing
  • straining from lifting something heavy or from constipation
  • coughing
  • rubbing the eye to hard
  • vomiting
  • high dosage of blood thinners
  • high blood pressure

Some of the non-spontaneous events are:

  • eye injury
  • eye infection
  • eye surgery (or eyelid surgery)
  • other purposeful trauma to the eye

Since subconjunctival hemorrhages are usually painless, most people won't realize that it has happened until someone tells them or until they look in a mirror.

Treatment of Subconjunctival Hemorrhage

Medical treatment is usually not necessary for subconjunctival hemorrhage. If you are concerned, you can get your eye doctor to do a routine exam. A doctor will usually give you a routine exam to make sure there aren't any underlying causes, then may possibly recommend a cool compress until it goes away. However, if you feel pain, experience loss of vision, your eye swells, your eye is discharging fluid/liquid, you see blood on your pupil, or you are constantly tearing up/crying, you may have an underlying cause for the red spot. Your doctor will be able to determine if it is a minor cause or something worse.

It usually takes about a week for subconjunctival hemorrhage to clear. If the spot is large, it will take a little longer. Don't take asprin while you have subconjunctival hemorrhage because it can make the bleeding worse. During the healing process, the spot can change colors just as a bruise on your skin would. It can go from red, to brown, to purple, to yellow. If your eye feels a bit irritated, you can use artificial tears to help ease it. If your eye doesn't return to normal after about two to three weeks or you have other bleeding or bruising elsewhere on your body, see a doctor immediately.

Finding a red spot on your eye (subconjunctival hemorrhage) can be very alarming but it is usually not serious and will go away on it's own. There are many causes of subconjunctival hemorrage and most of them are simple things that can happen such as coughing, sneezing, or straining too hard. Subconjuntival hemorrhage is a common occurrence, and if this ever happens to your eye, you can be assured that your eye will be okay.


Bainter, P. S., MD. (19 Jan. 2018). Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (Bleeding in Eye).

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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      2 years ago

      What about if you have had one of these on your eye for over 10years?

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      THANK YOU, wonderful woman. I am more at ease as there is zero pain.

      I was washing my hair in the tub and I think I put internal pressure forward.


      Friendly Canadian

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      2 years ago

      Thanks whoever you are, I was so alarmed when I got today and saw this but now I am ok.

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      2 years ago


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      2 years ago

      Thanks for information . I was getting worried for this problem

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Yikes, thanks for the wirnang! Hah. I have to say, this post made me crack up so much when I read all of the potential zombie eye triggers. I was actually just thinking it might be a good idea to read some gross blogs once in a while because otherwise all of the food I see on blogs everywhere makes me SO HUNGRY. So thanks for the break! Lol.


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