Blood in the White Part of the Eye

Blood in the White Part of the Eye in Olympia

Blood in the White Part of the Eye

If you see blood in the white part of the eye, known medically as a subconjunctival hemorrhage, it may look alarming but in fact it almost always is harmless. It simply is a small blood vessel in the eye that popped. It could be caused by a variety of reasons, some as mild as coughing or sneezing, and it usually passes on its own within two weeks or so.

Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor if the red spot doesn’t go away within 2-3 weeks, if you are in pain or are experiencing changes in your vision, if there’s more than one red spot or if the blood is located in the colorful part of your eye, known as the iris.

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Symptoms and Causes

A red spot in the white part of the eye is usually not accompanied by any other symptoms, other than a possible scratchy feeling on the surface of your eye. 

The blood vessel that popped is right under the conjunctiva which is a clear membrane that covers the surface of the eye and contains lots of small blood vessels. The blood is not in an area of the eye that affects your vision and that’s why this condition should not cause any changes in your vision. The red spot on your eye may get bigger within a day or two but then it usually starts turning a more yellowish hue as the eye begins to absorb the blood.

The most common causes of a subconjunctival hemorrhage are:

  • Very strong sneezing or coughing
  • Strain 
  • Vomiting 

Sometimes it could result from other factors such as:

  • Rubbing your eye in a rough manner
  • Something stuck in your eye
  • Contact lenses
  • Virus
  • Surgery 

Less common causes are:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Certain blood thinning medications
  • Blood clotting conditions

The chances of getting a subconjunctival hemorrhage increase after age 50 since it’s more common in this age group to develop diabetes or high blood pressure, however these illnesses are considered to be uncommon causes for a red spot in the eye.


A red spot in your eye is not always something that can be prevented, however there are certain recommendations of precautions that can be takes such as:

  • Be careful to rub your eyes very gently
  • Take good care of your contact lenses to make sure that they are properly cleaned
  • Wear proper protective gear to prevent eye injury
  • If you have a bleeding disorder, try to keep it under control and you can discuss with your healthcare provider what to do to try to prevent a subconjunctival hemorrhage


There is no treatment or method to speed up the natural healing of most subconjunctival hemorrhages. Your eye doctor may recommend using artificial tears to help with discomfort. If the bleeding appeared due to an underlying cause or condition, then the proper treatment will be provided to deal with the cause.

Common Questions

You can take a deep breath of relief because a red spot in the eye looks so much scarier than it really is. It almost always is harmless as it’s just a popped blood vessel right under the surface of the eye. You can schedule an appointment with your eye doctor who can check to make sure that there are no underlying conditions which very rarely could be the cause for a red spot in the eye. Most often the appearance of blood at the front of the eye will go away on its own in approximately two weeks or so.
A red spot in the eye can appear without any apparent cause for it. It could be a result of coughing or sneezing too hard so there isn’t really a way to usually prevent the appearance of a red spot in the eye, but there are certain precautions that could be taken in order to prevent more uncommon causes for it. These tips include being careful not to rub your eyes too hard, wear protective gear if your eyes are at risk for an injury and keep your contact lenses clean. Also, if you have a bleeding disorder, consult with your doctor how to keep it under control.
Blood in the White Part of the Eye
Dr. Zurcher cartoon


When there is blood in the white part of the eye, it tends to look much more alarming than it actually is. It usually is harmless and will go away on its own without requiring treatment. However, if you have any questions or concerns or if you are in pain or there’s changes with your eyesight, please schedule an appointment at our office. Our eye doctor has extensive experience helping people with this condition in our city.

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