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Burst blood vessel in eye – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Updated on October 3, 2013

The condition of burst blood vessel in eye is medically referred to as subconjunctival hemorrhage. It happens when a tiny blood vessel present just below the conjunctiva ruptures. Patients will generally not realize that they are suffering from a burst blood vessel in eye, until they look in the mirror and discover the bright red section.

The conjunctiva is a clear membrane occurring over the sclera or the white section of the eye, and on the inside part of the eyelids. The conjunctiva has many tiny blood vessels.The blood vessels are very delicate and can break open with the slightest trauma or increased pressure of the blood within the vessels. The rupture of these vessels leads to release of blood which gets entrapped between the sclera and the conjunctiva.The blood gets trapped because the conjunctiva cannot rapidly absorb it. Such trapped blood is noticed as red patches on the eye.A burst blood vessel in eye is a harmless condition which resolves on its own within a couple of weeks.

A ruptured blood vessel in eye usually occurs without any underlying injury to the eye. It can also be the result of a strenuous cough or sneeze. The condition does not have a specific line of treatment.

Symptoms of burst blood vessel in eye

Some of the signs and symptoms of a burst blood vessel in eye are listed below:

  • A burst blood vessel in eye can be easily recognized by the presence of an unusual bright red patch on the white section of the eye.
  • Individuals suffering from ruptured blood vessel in eye may not experience any pain, change in the vision, or any discharge from the eye. The bloody appearance may not be cosmetically appealing, though.
  • Patients may experience some discomfort in the form of scratchiness or itchiness on the ocular surface.
  • The spread of the hemorrhage may cause it to become yellowish or greenish. The condition generally goes away without treatment in about 14 days.

Patients may consult a doctor if they experience recurrent episodes of burst blood vessel in eye, or if there is clear visible bleeding, or if they experience any kind of vision problems.

Causes of burst blood vessel in eye

In most cases the cause of burst blood vessel in eye remains undiagnosed. However, people may suffer from ruptured ocular blood vessels in the following circumstances:

  • The ocular blood vessels can rupture due to strenuous activities like lifting heavy weights. During this process, a considerable amount of force may be exerted on the veins of the head. Such elevated pressure can result in a burst blood vessel in eye.
  • Excess stress on the blood vessels as well as a sudden accumulation of venous pressure due to violent sneezing or vomiting, or coughing fits can eventually result in spontaneous rupture of blood vessel in eye.
  • Vigorous rubbing of the eye or any other kind of ocular trauma can also cause the blood vessels to burst. If you rub your eye when wearing contact lenses, then the eye may form reddish spots or abrasions.
  • Newborns are also vulnerable to developing this anomalous condition. In most cases, the underlying cause is deemed to be the pressure changes experienced during delivery.
  • The presence of certain health problems also increases the susceptibility of an individual to developing burst blood vessel in eye. Diabetes, glaucoma, high blood pressure, and conjunctivitis are some of the known conditions. Eyelid or eye surgery as well as serious eye infections are also considered as probable causes.
    • Inflammation of the conjunctiva is referred to as conjunctivitis. It may be caused due to viral or bacterial infections. Such pathogens may weaken the blood vessel walls and eventually cause them to break open.
    • Glaucoma is a medical disorder that causes high levels of intraocular pressure, i.e., the pressure applied by the liquids within the eyeball. Such increased pressure can rupture the ocular blood vessels.
    • Intake of excess amounts of blood-thinning medicines, ginger, ginseng, cayenne, or garlic can also cause the ocular abnormality.
    • Individuals who suffer from allergic reactions accompanied by vigorous coughing or sneezing are at greater risk to experiencing burst blood vessel in eye.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Treatment

A burst blood vessel in eye does not generally result in any medical complications. If you are self-conscious about the bloody appearance of the eye, then you may consult a doctor.

The doctor only needs to look at the affected eye to diagnose the condition. He/she may also measure your blood pressure, obtain information about your overall health, and ask for a routine blood test to be performed just to rule out the presence of any severe blood disorders.

The ophthalmologist may prescribe artificial tears or other such eye drops four to five times a day, to alleviate the ocular scratchiness. The blood will eventually get absorbed into the eye on its own after about 10 to 15 days. Doctors typical discourage using NSAIDs and aspirin.

Subconjunctival Hemorrhage Pictures


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