Why Do I Have Blood in My Eye?

When to be concerned about a broken blood vessel in your eye

A blood spot in your eye (subconjunctival hemorrhage) is caused by a tiny blood vessel breaking just beneath the clear surface of the eye (conjunctiva). You will see a speck of redness on the white of the eye or a larger area of visible blood.

Sometimes, people wake up with this blood spot in the eye. While it can look scary, it is rarely an emergency and will get better on its own without treatment.

This article will go over the causes and symptoms of a blood spot in the eye. You will also learn when to see a provider about a blood spot in your eye that’s not getting better.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage affecting a portion of an eye

apomares / Getty Images

Signs of a Blood Spot in the Eye

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is a blood-red discoloration on the white of the eye. Over time, the redness will turn greenish or yellowish, like a bruise. 

A subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually painless, although some people may experience a scratchy sensation in the eye. The symptoms will usually disappear within two weeks.

If the leak is little, a subconjunctival hemorrhage may only cause a small area of redness or even a tiny red speck in the eye.

If there is more leakage, the entire white of the eye may look red. In some cases, the affected tissues bulge out.

Close-up of eye with subconjunctival hemorrhage

turk_stock_photographer / Getty Images

Other Eye Bleeds

In addition to a subconjunctival hemorrhage, there are other kinds of bleeding that can happen in the eye:

  • Hyphema is bleeding in the eye between the cornea and the iris. It usually happens with an injury but can also be related to some health conditions. This requires emergency medical care.
  • Vitreous hemorrhage is blood in the special fluid in your eye (vitreous fluid). You may see “floaters” or have other vision changes. It can be caused by injuries or complications from chronic conditions like diabetes. If it doesn’t heal on its own, you might need surgery. 

Blood in the Eye Causes

A subconjunctival hemorrhage can have several causes, including injuries to the eye, medical conditions, or sudden, forceful changes to the blood pressure.

Causes of a bleeding eye

Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee

Some of the potential causes of blood in the eye include:

Diagnosing Blood in the Eye

An eye health provider (optometrist or an ophthalmologist) can do an eye exam to find out what caused the blood in your eye. They will ask you about your medical history and the medications you take. They will also check your blood pressure.

They may do some tests to find out what is causing blood in your eye, including:

Self-Care for Blood Spot in Eye

Most blood spots in the eye get better on their own within two weeks. A blood spot in your eye usually does not need medical treatment. 

However, you might want to apply a warm compress to your eye as an at-home treatment to help heal a blood spot in your eye.

If you have eye irritation or scratchiness, it can help to use some over-the-counter (OTC) artificial tears.

Medical Treatment For Blood in Eye

Specific causes of blood in the eye may need medical treatment. For example:

  • Controlling diabetes with medication and lifestyle changes or treatments to manage a bleeding disorder 
  • Surgery to fix an eye problem that could affect your vision (such as a detached retina)

Blood in the Eye: When to Worry

Blood in your eye can be a sign of something more serious. See a healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Blood in your eye that has lasted longer than three weeks
  • Blood in your eye with eye pain
  • Vision loss, including blurring and light sensitivity
  • Recurring eye bleeding

Even though the appearance of blood in your eye can be disturbing, it's usually no cause for alarm, especially if you don't have any pain or vision changes.

However, if you experience blood in your eye more than twice a year, get a full checkup to see if there are any medical conditions causing the problem.


Bleeding in the white of the eye is caused by a broken blood vessel.

Eye injury, severe high blood pressure, forceful sneezing or coughing, eye infections, certain medications, or bleeding disorders can cause blood spots in your eye.

It is not usually an emergency and just causes a little blood-red discoloration that usually gets better on its own within two weeks. If it doesn’t, see your provider. They can figure out what the cause is and help you get the best treatment. 

Even though the appearance of blood in your eye can be disturbing, it's usually no cause for alarm, especially if you don't have any pain or vision changes.

However, if you experience a subconjunctival hemorrhage more than twice a year, you should get a full checkup to see if there are any medical conditions contributing to the recurrence.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the fastest way to get rid of a subconjunctival hemorrhage?

    A blood spot in your eye will usually get better on its own, but you can use warm compresses to help speed up the process.

  • Can you go blind from popping a blood vessel?

    In most cases, a blood spot in your eye is not an emergency. However, if the bleeding is from an underlying condition like diabetes or high blood pressure, it can lead to vision loss if left untreated.

7 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.
  1. Tarlan B, Kiratli H. Subconjunctival hemorrhage: risk factors and potential indicators. Clin Ophthalmol. 2013;7:1163-70. doi:10.2147/OPTH.S35062

  2. Cedars-Sinai Health Library. Subconjunctival hemorrhage.

  3. Nemours Children's Health. Subconjunctival hemorrhage.

  4. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Home remedies for bloodshot eyes.

  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology. How can I make a broken blood vessel in my eye heal faster?.

  6. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Is broken blood vessel in the eye harmless?.

  7. National Eye Institute. Diabetic retinopathy.

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.