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What is an Eye Blister?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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An eye blister is a benign growth which can appear on the whites of the eyes or on the cornea itself. There are two main types of eye blister: pinguecula and pterygium. Both are similar, although pingueculas are often bigger and take longer to heal. It is unknown what exactly causes eye blisters, but they are most common in the elderly and generally occur in those who spend a lot of time outdoors without proper sun protection for the eyes.

The smallest type of eye blister, the pterygium, is generally painless and may come in small clumps of tiny clear lesions. They may occur almost anywhere on the eye, including the cornea, and can sometimes cause temporary vision changes. In most cases they are eventually absorbed back into the eye and cause no further damage. While not harmful, these blisters can be unsightly and may cause embarrassment for those who get them.

A larger eye blister, or pinguecula, may become very inflamed, red, sore, and gritty feeling. Dryness of the eye is common with these blisters. Eye drops are generally recommended to relieve discomfort until the blister heals. Sometimes medicated drops are used for extreme discomfort or swelling, and rarely, surgery may be needed to remove the blister. Surgical treatments are usually reserved for very severe cases, such as in cases where vision has been affected.

The primary causes of eye blisters are not entirely understood, but it is thought that they occur due to sun damage because those who spend large amounts of time outdoors are afflicted far more often than those who don't. Sometimes allergens like dust or pollen may also cause irritation and lead to an eye blister. The best method of prevention is to wear sunglasses when outside in bright light and to avoid wiping the eyes unless the hands are clean and free from dirt, pollen, or dust. Using an air purifier in the home may also be useful in preventing allergens.

Anyone can get an eye blister, and they are very common. That said, any unusual bump or sore in the eye should be properly examined by an optometrist to rule out the possibility of more serious conditions. Cancer of the eye is rare, but can occur and should be taken into consideration until a diagnosis is made. Other benign conditions are far more likely, although some may affect vision and must still be treated by a medical professional.

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Discussion Comments
By anon981322 — On Dec 11, 2014

My daughter called me hysterical that she had a blister on her eyeball - she ran to the doctor thinking it was something deadly. In the meantime I got online and found this site.

I learned what eye blister are, what causes them and that they are not malignant. I had never heard of them. Thanks to God for helping me find this site, it has really eased our minds. God bless.

By amypollick — On Nov 24, 2012

@burcinc and MikeMason: Yes, a blister on the eyeball can be caused by infection from wearing contacts, and it can be extremely serious.

Two weeks ago, a co-worker of mine had a red eye, mildly painful. She didn't go to the eye doctor right away. Two days later, she got up and saw a blister on her eye, and she went to the eye doctor. He took one look and told her she had a severe infection, and that no one in town could treat her.

He sent her to an eye hospital at a large teaching hospital 80 miles away because that was where she could get treatment. For about two days, her specialist was afraid she was going to lose her vision in that eye. She treated my co-worker with eye drops that had to be put in every hour, around the clock. She said trying to stop the infection was like trying to stop a speeding train, and that her cornea was "melting." Direct quote.

After great medical care and a lot of prayer, my co-worker got news that her eye was progressing well, and they should be able to save the sight in that eye. She may face a cornea transplant down the road, depending on the amount of scarring.

Her specialist said anyone could get that particular eye infection, but those who wore contacts, and especially who wore them too long, were most susceptible to it.

My co-worker said she had been wearing her lenses too long, which is almost certainly what precipitated the infection, according to her doctor. She said people who wear daily wear lenses who were diligent about keeping them clean weren't as apt to get the infection as those who used extended wear lenses, and left them in too long.

But the warning sign was an eye blister. They should be taken with the utmost seriousness. My co-worker said her specialist told her that even a few more hours' delay would have almost certainly cost her vision in that eye. Don't mess around with it.

By turquoise — On Nov 18, 2012

As crazy as this sounds, I've heard that some eye blisters are actually cold sores. Instead of forming around the mouth, they can form in the eyes. It sounds scary, but apparently it goes away on its own.

By burcinc — On Nov 17, 2012

@MikeMason: You know, I've been wondering the same thing.

I had a small eye blister on my left eye last month. It didn't hurt but it was uncomfortable, you know, that feeling of having something in your eye.

Anyway, I went to an eye specialist. He gave me a special antibiotic eye drop to use for five days and told me it would disappear soon. He also told me not to wear makeup or contacts until it goes away.

Just like he said, it went away in four days. I have no idea what caused it but I am suspecting that contacts or makeup might have something to do with it. Maybe bacteria grows on the contacts or in the makeup, who knows?

By stoneMason — On Nov 16, 2012

Can wearing contact lenses or makeup regularly cause a blister on the eyeball?

By anon303677 — On Nov 15, 2012

I have one of these things and it was getting large enough I made an appointment with an ophthalmologist to look at it again and maybe remove.

I have used steroid drops from the doctor and expensive allergy drops and it kept growing over the last year. Then one dose of generic visine (glycerin 0.5 percent Naphazoline HCL 0.03 percent) last night and it's one-fourth the size it was yesterday. I think I will continue and see if that takes care of it. I hope so.

By browncoat — On Oct 24, 2012

I remember when I was a kid my grandmother had what must have been a blister on the eye. It was like a small, white bump on the white of her eye. I was kind of fascinated by it but I remember my mother telling me not to look at it, because my grandmother was ashamed of it.

Sounds like, to some extent, it's a natural part of aging, so it's too bad she was embarrassed.

By pastanaga — On Oct 24, 2012

@anon280411 - If you haven't already, take her straight to the vet. I know it's easy to think that something like that might clear up, but it might also be more serious than you think.

When my cat was younger, she started getting a bit of discharge around her eye and I thought it would just go away by itself. But, it got worse and when I finally got her to the vet, it turned out that she had been wounded in the eye and might have lost her eyesight if I hadn't taken her in.

If you've already seen the vet, and the blisters on her eyes are permanent (or even long term temporary) then you need to prepare your house for a blind dog. With her hearing and sense of smell, she'll be all right if you make sure she can't inadvertently injure herself, and try not to make any major changes to the landscape of the house once she learns it.

By anon280411 — On Jul 17, 2012

My dog has a blister directly in the center of each eye and she can't see at all. What do I do?

By oscar23 — On Apr 22, 2011

@tlcJPC – Bless your heart – it sounds like you are having a terrible time! The good news is that I don’t think you have an eye lid blister. The bad news is that it sounds like you might have pink eye. I am not a doctor, but I am a mom, and your symptoms really point to a good old fashioned pink eye infection. Here's just a couple of things to keep in mind. Keep watching it – it may go away on its own or it may not. You may need to see a doctor. It’s not life threatening, but it is big-time contagious so quit rubbing those eyes right now! You could spread it all over without ever meaning to. It’s easy to treat and will be over in no time. Feel better soon!

By tlcJPC — On Apr 21, 2011

Is an eye blister the same thing as having a sty in your eye? I’ve got this big red place in the corner of my eye and it really, really hurts. I can’t quit rubbing it! That seems to just make it worse though. It doesn’t really seem to look like a blister, but it sure it is red and sore and irritated. I have been out in the sun a lot lately, but I wore sunglasses. Is it likely that I have a blister on my eye lid?

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