Red spots on the eyes: causes, treatment and prevention

In this article, you’ll get to know the main reasons why red spots appear in the eye—a very common eye problem and a common reason for consultation atour ophthalmology department in JLRohatgi hospital. In general, these spots are related to some type of effusion in the conjunctiva.

What is the conjunctiva?

The conjunctiva is a thin, transparent, elastic, and strong membrane that lines the inner face of the eyelids and the sclera (the white part of the eye). It serves as both a defence and a protector. In addition, it is essential to provide the lubrication that the cornea needs, which is why it is an essential part of our eyes.

There are a large number of blood vessels in the conjunctiva that can rupture, causing a small amount of blood to leak into both the conjunctiva and the sclera (subconjunctival haemorrhage). That amount of blood can sometimes be the cause of small reddish spots appearing in our eyes, also called effusions, hypospadias or petechiae

Why can this bleeding occur?

The origin of subconjunctival haemorrhages can be very varied. Naturally, they can be the result of a direct blow to the eye. When this happens, it is essential to go to the doctor to perform an examination of the area and rule out any other type of damage to the eye as a whole.

However, it must be very clear that the appearance of red spots in the eye does not necessarily have to be caused by a blow or disorder of considerable importance. Instead, they can be the result of something as simple as the following actions:

  • a coughing fit
  • a sneeze
  • Blowing the nose intensely
  • lift heavy weights
  • Any action that requires effort or increased blood pressure

In summary, the appearance of small red spots in the eye can be the result of any action that requires physical effort and, as a consequence, increases blood pressure. The effect of this increase in blood pressure would be the rupture of some of the small capillaries that carry blood to the eye and when the blood leaves the blood vessels, subconjunctival haemorrhage occurs, which appears as this type of bleeding stains.

In any case, it must be taken into account that subconjunctival haemorrhage can also occur when we hit our eye or even when we rub it with more force than normal. However, other possible causes would be diabetes and hypertension. In these last two cases, it must be borne in mind that these are important diseases and that they require treatment appropriate to the severity of each case.

Therefore, if the red spots in the eye appear as a result of physical effort, they do not usually represent a major importance. But if they are frequent, it is possible that part of their origin is linked to one of these diseases, so it is important to see a doctor to perform the relevant tests.

Most of the time, the red spots will fade over time. But if the bleeding occurs recurrently or is very large, we must go to the ophthalmologist to perform an examination and any additional problem can be ruled out.

Should I worry if I have red spots in my eye?

Although discovering a leak in the conjunctiva of the eye can be a cause for concern due to the conspicuousness of the symptom, as with any type of bleeding, in principle it is not a serious problem.

In most cases, red spots on the eye are temporary lesions that usually go away on their own and rarely last more than a week. As for the symptoms that cause these haemorrhages, they almost never cause pain or discomfort, and they usually do not affect vision in the short or long term.

If the red spots in the eye appear sporadically and infrequently, it is usually not necessary to go to the ophthalmologist. But, if they become common, it is advisable to make an appointment with the doctor, since they can be one of the symptoms of a blood pressure problem and it would be necessary to adopt a treatment for it immediately.

How to treat red spots in the eye?

As mentioned, the origin of the red spots in the eye is related to an internal effusion due to the breakage of a capillary in the eye. Because of this, the only possible treatment is to wait for the body itself to heal the wound and reabsorb the excess blood that has escaped from the capillaries, which usually happens in a few days that can range from a week to a month, in the most persistent cases.

However, when this type of subconjunctival haemorrhage appears, it is important that we protect the eyes to promote a correct and speedy recovery. In this sense, it is recommended to dispense with the use of contact lenses during the time in which the red stain is present, as well as to supply artificial tears several times a day.

Artificial tears help to improve the lubrication and cleanliness of the eye, which contributes to faster improvement and avoids possible discomfort. Artificial tears can be purchased directly at the pharmacy, and their use is as simple as that of any eye drops that are applied through the eye.

In addition, the use of sunglasses outdoors is also recommended, since this will provide additional protection for the eyes against possible blows, particles that enter the eyes, or situations that could cause new trauma to the affected area.

How to prevent red spots in the eye?

When it comes to preventing red spots in the eye, the first thing to do is see a doctor to rule out that they are the consequence of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, or any other pathology that may cause them.

Once this origin has been ruled out and it is confirmed that the appearance of the red spots in the eye is solely due to effusion (a consequence of a broken capillary in the eye), the only thing that can be done to prevent their appearance is avoid situations that can lead to their occurrence.

In this sense, it must be considered that there may be people who have more ease than others when it comes to appearing. In these cases, it is recommended to avoid certain situations such as coughing attacks, strong sneezing, lifting large weights, etc. In this way, the appearance of these red spots can be prevented, at least in part.

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