The rupture of the eye’s capillaries is characterized by the spilling of blood from the small vessels that supply the visual apparatus’s organ. In this article, we will give you a complete guide about burst blood vessel eye. This condition is quite common and can be caused by numerous factors, including ocular trauma, infections, hormonal changes, anticoagulant drugs, high blood pressure and several other systemic diseases. The causes can identify the ophthalmologist, starting from the breakdown of the capillaries of the eye ( just below the conjunctiva, in the vitreous body and/or in the retina ).
Furthermore, depending on the location of the broken capillaries, this condition involves different symptoms. The blood effusion usually occurs in a more or less visible red patch on the surface or inside the eye. In most cases, treatment is unnecessary: the eye’s capillaries’ rupture spontaneously within 1-3 weeks. Sometimes, however, the disorder can become frequent and/or last beyond this period, signalling a more serious underlying condition (e.g., diabetes, vascular diseases, coagulation disorders, etc.). If the problem persists beyond 14 days, it is essential to consult your doctor to understand the causes and resort to the most suitable intervention for the case.
The rupture of the eye’s capillaries is a condition that causes bleeding due to the lesion of the small vessels that supply the various ocular structures; on the other hand, burst blood vessel eye effusion from large-calibre vessels is rare.
Rupture of the capillaries of the eye can occur at the level of:
- Space between the conjunctiva and the sclera (white part of the eye);
- Vitreous body ;
Sub conjunctival hemorrhage is definitely the cause more frequent and less severe than this event, while the retinal and vitreous involvement is rare. Depending on the rupture’s location of the eye’s capillaries, a red spot appears, associated with a more or less limiting visual disturbance.
Types of rupture of the burst blood vessel eye
Depending on where the capillaries of the eye break, it is possible to distinguish 3 different types of blood effusion:
- Subconjunctival hemorrhage (or hyperphagia): it is the most common type of rupture of the eye’s capillaries. The process involves the space located just below the conjunctiva (transparent surface of the eye). In fact, in subconjunctival hemorrhage, blood is shed following the small superficial capillaries’ rupture between the sclera and the conjunctiva. This form of bleeding generally does not lead to changes in the eye or vision.
- Vitreous hemorrhage: the rupture of the eye’s capillaries affects the vitreous body (between the back of the lens and the retina), which is physiologically transparent. The collection of blood in the vitreous cavity prevents light from reaching the retina with a significant visual reduction.
- Retinal hemorrhage: the rupture of the capillaries of the eye involves the vascularized portion of the retina. The bleeding retinal may result from trauma or signs of a systemic vascular disease (diabetes, venous occlusion, etc.)
Causes burst blood vessel eye.
The rupture of the eye’s capillaries is associated with the injury of one or more blood vessels, which pour their blood content at the level of the bulbar conjunctiva, the vitreous body, or the retina. The causes of the rupture of the capillaries of the eye can be of various kinds. The bloodshed subconjunctival is often determined by minor reasons and not worry, as in the case of a cough or an effort that led to an excessive pressure reduction.
On the contrary, the rupture of the capillaries in the vitreous body and the retina must always be evaluated by the doctor, as they could indicate the presence of underlying diseases that must be treated (e.g., arterial hypertension, macular degeneration, the side effect of drugs, diabetes, etc.).
Sub conjunctival hemorrhage: Burst Blood Vessel Eye
A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a small blood vessel ruptures and bleeds in the bulbar conjunctiva. In fact, the conjunctival epithelium contains numerous capillaries (usually, these small blood vessels are visible when the eye is inflamed), which are quite fragile, and their walls can break easily.
The possible causes of the rupture of the capillaries of the eye at the subconjunctival level are:
- Excessive physical exertion (e.g., heavy lifting, but it can also occur from vomiting, violent sneezing, or coughing );
- The sharp increase in blood pressure (as in hypertension);
- Sudden change in pressure at delivery (shaken baby syndrome)
- Minor injuries (vigorous rubbing of the eye, penetration of a foreign body, incorrect use of contact lenses, etc.);
- Taking anticoagulant drugs and supplements (such as aspirin, warfarin, and ginseng );
- Hormonal changes in pregnancy;
The minor post-operative complication in refractive surgery (LASIK for the correction of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism ). Occasionally, blood loss in the eye can also be a sign of other types of eye conditions (e.g. glaucoma, conjunctivitis, uveitis or severe infections).
The rupture of the capillaries of the eye at the vitreous level can occur in cases of:
- A detachment of the retina.
- Macular degeneration.
- Diabetes and diabetic retinopathy.
- Pathologies of the circulatory and vascular system.
Retinal hemorrhage: Burst Blood Vessel Eye
The possible causes of the rupture of the capillaries of the eye at the retinal level are:
- Systemic vascular diseases (arterial hypertension, venous occlusion, complications of diabetes, etc.)
- A detachment of the retina.
- Macula degeneration.
- Trauma (contusion or fracture of the skull).
Several factors can increase the fragility of the eye capillaries. For example, this phenomenon can represent a side effect of anticoagulant drugs, such as aspirin ( acetylsalicylic acid ) and warfarin. Although rare, St. John’s wort, ginkgo Biloba, ginger, and cayenne pepper may increase the risk when taken in high doses.
Symptoms and Complications
Rupture of the eye’s capillaries usually presents a blood spot and general eye redness. This phenomenon can affect any person and can affect both the right and left sides. The various causes that cause the eye’s capillary rupture draw a slightly different symptom picture for each phenomenon.
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The rupture of the eye’s capillaries at the sclera level (white part of the eye) does not generally cause vision problems or significant discomfort, despite its visible appearance and the onset of mildly annoying symptoms. Usually, the phenomenon appears as a blood patch under the transparent conjunctival surface. The blood initially appears bright red; later, the effusion may spread, and the speck tends to turn green or yellow, similar to a bruise.
In this case, the most common symptoms of ruptured eye capillaries include:
- Bleeding in the white part of the eye ( blood in the eye ).
- Headache (in some cases, but not always).
- Feeling of discomfort inside the eye (as if there is sand or a foreign body).
- The eye pain is generally non-existent or minimal, and there is no change in vision.
Vitreous or retinal hemorrhage: Burst Blood Vessel Eye
The rupture of the eye’s capillaries associated with a vitreous or retinal hemorrhage produces practically the same symptoms. It should be remembered that these two conditions are quite rare compared to the first, but they can signal the presence of more serious problems and ailments.
The typical symptoms of the rupture of the capillaries at the vitreous or retinal level are the following:
- Pain in the eye
- Blurred vision.
- Bloodstain in the eye.
- If the bleeding is limited: floaters ( floaters or “floaters”).
- In severe cases: visual impairment of varying degrees.
Blood in the Eye
The symptom commonly described as “blood in the eye” is caused by the rupture of the small superficial capillaries, located between the sclera and the conjunctiva; the result is appreciable bleeding as a red spot located in the “white part” of the eye (ocular sclera). In the medical field, we speak more correctly of subconjunctival hemorrhage (or hyperphagia): subconjunctival is the term used to describe the space located just below the conjunctiva (the transparent surface of the eye). So, in contrast, ” hemorrhage ” refers to the rupture of a vessel sanguine.
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In most cases, the eye’s blood loss is harmless and does not cause vision problems or significant discomfort, despite its visible appearance. Rupture of capillaries can also occur in people who have high blood pressure or who are taking blood thinners. In most cases, treatment is unnecessary. Blood in the eye usually resolves spontaneously within 1-3 weeks.
A subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a small blood vessel ruptures and pours blood into the bulbar conjunctiva. These pots are quite fragile, and their walls can break easily. A sneeze or a strong cough can occasionally cause blood loss in the eye. In other cases, it can be due to choking, heavy lifting, vigorous eye rubbing, and vomiting. Occasionally, blood loss in the eye can also be a sign of other types of potentially serious eye conditions, especially when associated with eye discharge (eye infection). Furthermore, subconjunctival hemorrhage can appear as a minor post-operative complication in refractive surgery (example: LASIK).
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Several factors can increase the risk of a ruptured blood vessel in the eye. For example, this can be a side effect of anticoagulant drugs, such as aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid ) and warfarin. Although rare, St. John’s worth, ginkgo balboa, ginger, and cayenne pepper can increase the risk of bleeding when taken in high doses.
Ifema: Burst Blood Vessel Eye
Hyphema is a collection of blood that accumulates between the iris, pupil, and cornea. This type of eye-bleeding is less common, but it can be more dangerous because it can lead to permanent vision loss if left untreated. The main difference between hyphema and subconjunctival hemorrhage is the presence of pain in the eye.
Other symptoms include:
- diffuse bleeding of the eye (not visible if small)
- blurred vision
- hypersensitivity to light ( photophobia )
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The damage and rupture of blood vessels can cause bleeding even inside the eyeball, usually not visible on the surface because it is located deeper; types of deeper eye-bleeding include:
- vitreous hemorrhage, which involves the vitreous space, which is the surface between the posterior portion of the lens and the retina
- subretinal hemorrhage
- submacular hemorrhage, which involves the macula that is the portion of the eye in the centre of the retina that is most sensitive to light stimuli
Possible symptoms may include:
- blurred vision
- the vision of floats, i.e., spots that seem to float
- seeing flashes of light (photopsia)
- the sensation of pressure or fullness in the eye
- eye swelling
When to see your doctor
The American Association of Ophthalmologists recommends contacting the specialist in case of red-eye and:
- presence of yellow, brown, or green crusts (this could be conjunctivitis ),
- eye pain
- photophobia (light discomfort)
- presence of fever or other systemic illness/symptoms
- symptoms last longer than a week
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Diagnosis: Burst Blood Vessel Eye
- A normal eye exam may be sufficient to diagnose the common subconjunctival hemorrhage and establish the cause of the rupture of the capillaries of the eye. If the cause of the capillary rupture is not clear, the ophthalmologist may decide to deepen the clinical picture with further investigations to identify any pathologies affecting the eye.
- As for the rupture of the vitreous body and retina capillaries, it is good to face an ophthalmological examination to evaluate the bulb and the eye’s fundus, with particular attention to the retinal periphery.
- When the rupture of the eye’s capillaries has been caused by trauma, it is necessary to carry out a thorough examination to understand the extent of the damage and other structures’ possible involvement.
- If the rupture of the eye’s capillaries is associated with bruising or bleeding in other parts of the body, the patient undergoes diagnostic tests aimed at ruling out systemic vascular pathologies or coagulation defects.
In the absence of significant infection or trauma, rupture of the capillaries at the subconjunctival level is a condition that does not require any specific treatment. Typically, blood loss is self-limited and resolves in two to three weeks, with no long-term complications. If the patient feels discomfort or pain, the doctor may indicate the use of analgesic drugs. Even artificial tears can help reduce potential irritation.
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Patients on aspirin or anticoagulant therapy should consult with their doctor to determine if it is safe to continue taking these medications during the healing process. If an infection is present, antibiotic eye drops or ointments may be prescribed. As for the rupture of the eye’s capillaries at the vitreous or retinal level, it is essential to contact your trusted ophthalmologist to have a clear idea of the intervention plan based on the individual case and the extent of the problem.
To promote the healing of the rupture of the capillaries of the eye and promote the reabsorption of bleeding, one can intervene on one’s eating habits, for example, by consuming foods that contain flavonoids present in berries, citrus fruits and red grapes. It is best to avoid taking substances that could dilate the capillaries during recoveries, such as spicy and scorching foods, alcohol, coffee, and carbonated drinks.