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Bubble on Eyeball: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment

A bubble on the eyeball can look like a blister or bump on the surface of the eye. They may arise from a variety of causes. 

Bubbles or bumps may be white, yellow, or clear, or they may like a freckle. They come in various sizes and shapes, and they can indicate different medical conditions.

Some growths on the eye can be temporary and not impact vision. Other growths can be problematic, impacting vision and indicating a serious medical condition. Be sure to see your doctor right away to diagnose the exact cause and get started on treatment.

Causes of Bubbles on the Eye

A bubble on the eyeball can be caused by various factors, such as these:

Pterygium

How It Looks

Pterygium is an abnormal growth that often starts on the side of the eye. It can reach the cornea, become uncomfortable, and cause problems with your vision.

What Is Causing It?

This type of growth is often caused by exposure to elements, such as sun, dust, and dry wind. It is typically called farmer’s eye or surfer’s eye because people who are active outdoors and exposed to extreme environments are more at risk. 

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms of pterygium include eye dryness, blurry vision, and a white or pink growth on the eyes.

Pterygium comes from the Greek words pteryx meaning “wing” and pterygion for “fin.” This non-cancerous growth has a characteristic wing-shaped appearance.

Treatment

To promote healing from pterygium, stay out of harsh environments. Eye drops or artificial tears can help to protect the eye and keep it lubricated.

If the growth is painful or interferes with vision, your doctor may prescribe steroid eye drops. If this is not sufficient to correct the problem, surgical removal may be the next step.

Pinguecula

How it looks

A pinguecula is a yellowish patch or bump on the eyeball. It most commonly shows up on the side of the eye closest to the nose. 

The patch is a deposit that can be composed of fat, calcium, or protein. It often develops as a result of chronic irritation.

What Is Causing It?

It is caused by several factors, including exposure to UV light, dry eyes, and aging.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include burning, stinging, dry or red eyes, and itching. It sometimes feels as if there is something in the eye. You may notice increased tearing and blurry vision. 

A pinguecula can develop into a pterygium, compromising vision.

Treatment

Similar to pterygiums, the first action to treat a pinguecula is to protect the eye from exposure. Eye drops are often used to help with lubrication. Medicated eye drops may be the next line of treatment.

Conjunctival Cyst (Clear Bubble)

How It Looks

A conjunctival cyst is a clear bubble located on the conjunctiva. It can hold fluid or solid material. It is often found on part of the eye bordering the inside of the eyelid.

What Is Causing It?

A conjunctival cyst can be present at birth, or it can be a result of trauma. Some conjunctival cysts occur due to cataract surgery.

Symptoms

Some of the symptoms include inflammation and discomfort around the eye. The eye may appear red with increased production of tears. 

Treatment

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, these cysts often disappear on their own. If they increase in size or pose a cosmetic issue or vision problem, they can be surgically removed.

Noncancerous Tumor (Limbal Dermoid or Epibulbar Dermoid)

How It Looks

A limbal dermoid tumor, also called an epibulbar dermoid tumor, is a cyst that is present at birth. It can grow significantly and impair vision. 

What Is Causing It?

The cause is not known.

Symptoms

This growth is often associated with other syndromes and conditions, including Goldenhar syndrome, Duane syndrome, Lacrimal stenosis, and coloboma of the upper eyelid.

Treatment

The first step is to wait and watch. If the tumor does not grow and interfere with sight, there may be no need for surgical treatment. If the tumor does grow and begins to interfere with vision, surgery may be recommended. 

Conjunctival Tumor

A conjunctival malignant tumor is usually classified as squamous cell carcinoma, malignant melanoma, or lymphoma.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

How It Looks

It is white or reddish in color. It can be flat or raised.

Symptoms

It can cause vision problems.

Treatment

Treatment includes surgery. The goal is to remove the cancerous cells. Cryotherapy may be used as a freezing therapy, and chemotherapy eye drops may be used.

Malignant Melanoma

How It Looks

This begins as a freckle, but it is cancerous and can grow aggressively. 

Symptoms

In the early stages, ocular melanoma may not cause symptoms. However, it can appear as distorted vision and an appearance of flashing lights.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a dark spot may show up on the eye, and the pupil may change shape.

Treatment

Surgical removal is often done with cryotherapy, a treatment to freeze off the melanoma. There are also anti-cancer eye drops.

Lymphoma

How It Looks

A lymphoma is often orangish or salmon-colored. It may hide on the surface of the eye, typically under the eyelid.

Symptoms

Eye redness and decreased vision are typical symptoms. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, common symptoms include seeing dots or lines in your visual field. This condition is often more obvious in one eye, but both eyes can be affected. 

Treatment

Your health care provider needs to determine if the mass is a lymphoma. To do this, your doctor will request a biopsy.

If the lesion is limited to the conjunctiva, it can be treated with external beam radiation. If it is systemic, further medication or chemotherapy is often the recommended course of treatment.

Risks of a Bubble on the Eyeball

The risks of developing a bubble on the eyeball are higher for people who are active in intense environments, such as those with increased exposure to wind, dust, and dryness.

Risks of eye lymphoma are amplified in people who have a compromised immune system.

Diagnosis

To accurately diagnose the cause of a bubble on the eyeball, see an eye doctor. Your doctor can often diagnose the issue based on appearance, color, and size. 

As part of a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor may order additional tests and ask about your lifestyle. As many eye bubbles are caused by exposure to the elements, your doctor will ask about your sports and work activities.

Treatment: Home Remedies, Medical Treatment & More

Treatment varies depending on what is causing the bubble. If you have an irregular growth or bubble, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Home Remedies

If you notice a bubble on your eyeball, take precautions. Follow these steps:

  • Wear protective sunglasses while outdoors and when playing sports.
  • Use goggles to protect your eyes in dry, dusty, and windy conditions.
  • Use artificial tears to avoid dry eyes and keep the eyes lubricated.

For cysts on the eyelid, a warm compress may provide relief.

  • Wet a washcloth with clean, warm water.
  • Close your eyes.
  • Hold the cloth gently on or near the affected closed eyelid.

Medical Treatment

Talk with your doctor to determine the best treatment for your specific condition. 

Surgery is often the solution for pterygiums. Even with surgery, there is a risk of recurrence. Research is ongoing to determine how to minimize rates of recurrence.

Depending on the cause of the bubble, various treatment options may be used, such as these:

  • Eye drops 
  • Steroid eye drops or injections
  • Antibiotics
  • Medications
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation

Lifestyle Changes

If you have a pterygium or want to prevent getting one, minimize contact with environments that are heavily exposed to dust, pollen, wind, smoke, and sunlight. Use sunglasses to protect your eyes. 

Complications

In certain cases, surgery may be recommended to remove a bubble on the eyeball. For example, surgery to drain a conjunctival cyst is considered a safe procedure. However, it is important to realize that any surgery may have risks, such as reactions to anesthetic, infection, blood clotting, and bleeding. 

Draining a conjunctival cyst has specific risks, including the following:

• Eye discomfort

• Bruising around the eye for several weeks

• Eyelid infection

• Recurrence of the cyst

Talk to your doctor to explore options and understand potential risks.

When to See a Doctor

When you notice a bubble on the eyeball, contact your doctor. Your doctor can diagnose the cause, offer effective treatment, and give advice on how to prevent the problem from worsening. 

Don’t delay when you notice this bump. It’s important to get prompt treatment to rule out serious conditions and to prevent the problem from worsening.

Bubble on the Eyeball FAQs

Will the bubble on my eye go away?

Not all bubbles have the same cause. Some types of bubbles, such as a conjunctival cyst, may resolve on their own. If the bubble is caused by a more serious condition, it may not go away without medical intervention.

What causes bubbles in the eyes?

Bubbles on the eyeball can be caused by exposure to sun, wind, dust, and dirt. The bubble may be related to eye irritation, trauma, or other medical condition. Some bubbles may be present at birth.

References

  1. What Is a Pinguecula and a Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye)? (November 2021). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  2. Pterygium. StatPearls.

  3. Six Things to Know About Pinguecula and Pterygium. (July 2016). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  4. Conjunctival Inclusion Cyst. (May 2020). EyeWiki, American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  5. Limbal Dermoid. Texas Children’s Hospital.

  6. Eye Cancer Treatments. Siteman Cancer Center.

  7. What Is Ocular Melanoma? (January 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  8. What Is Eye Lymphoma? American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  9. Pterygium (Surfer’s Eye): Diagnosis, Symptoms & Treatment. Cleveland Clinic.

  10. Bumps on Eyeball: Causes, Types, and Treatment. Medical News Today.

  11. Dry Eyes: Symptoms, Causes & Treatments. Cleveland Clinic.

  12. How to Minimize Pterygium Recurrence Rates: Clinical Perspectives. (December 2018). Clinical Ophthalmology.

  13. Drainage of Conjunctival Cyst. St. Joseph’s Hospital.

  14. Clinical Study of Histologically Proven Conjunctival Cysts. (April–June 2015). Saudi Journal of Ophthalmology.

Last Updated November 1, 2022

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.