What Causes A Broken Blood Vessel In The Eye?

April 23, 2024

A broken blood vessel within the eye is referred to as a subconjunctival hemorrhage. This condition develops when a small blood vessel breaks below the conjunctiva, which is the clear portion of the eye. This condition could be caused by any number of issues, which can make it difficult to prevent. The symptoms of a ruptured blood vessel are typically mild at the beginning, which means it's likely individuals won't notice the broken blood vessel until they look in the mirror. The affected area will be bright red in color, which means blood is trapped under the surface. It's important to understand these broken blood vessels typically occur without any additional damage to the eye, which means the condition shouldn't be too harmful. In most cases, patients won't need to obtain treatment. This hemorrhage should dissipate entirely within a couple of weeks. During that time, the patient's vision should remain normal.

In any case, it's important to know what can cause a broken blood vessel in the eye so it can be avoided.

Rubbing The Eye

While the causes of a ruptured blood vessel in the eye are not always clear, there are a few causes that might have brought about this condition, one of which involves rubbing the eye. Individuals tend to rub their eyes when they're tired or when their eye itches. Many individuals with contacts will rub their eyes when they become irritated. No matter the reason, roughly rubbing the eye may cause a broken blood vessel. When individuals rub their eye, there are an array of things that happen, some of which are positive. For one, stimulation of the eyes occurs, which means tears will be produced. These tears help lubricate dry eyes and may be able to get rid of irritants like dust. This action can also help relieve stress and slow down one's overall heart rate. However, there are also several damaging things that can happen when individuals rub their eyes, the primary of which is a broken blood vessel. When these blood vessels break, the eyes will appear to be blood-shot. The hands are also covered with germs, which can be transferred to the eye and heighten the risk infection. The possibility of developing this condition is much more likely for individuals who suffer from pre-existing conditions in the eye.

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Trauma To The Eye

There is a wide range of ways in which trauma to the eye can occur and cause a blood vessel to become broken, and they usually include a foreign object penetrating the eye. These objects can be anything from a fish hook to a piece of metal. Whenever such trauma occurs, it's essential to avoid making the issue worse. For instance, patients should make sure they avoid rubbing their eyes and try not to remove the object without medical assistance if it remains stuck. These actions can worsen the damage that has already occurred. With most types of trauma, individuals will need to deal with ruptured vessels along with more severe problems that have caused damage to the eye itself. No matter the type of eye trauma patients suffer from, immediate medical attention is essential so the issue can be safely treated. This trauma could also involve certain chemicals, which could be very harmful to the patient's ongoing health if not treated quickly. Any chemicals with acid in them can actually be washed out somewhat easily and may only cause one or two broken blood vessels in the eye.

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Violent Coughing Or Sneezing

It's possible for a blood vessel to rupture from violent coughing or sneezing. Both of these actions are forceful and are oftentimes involuntary. Coughing is meant to keep the throat clear and will oftentimes occur because of the flu or a cold. Chronic bouts of coughing tend to last for two to three weeks. Sneezes are similar in that they are designed to remove irritants from the throat or nose. While the act of sneezing is beneficial to the body's health, it is also entirely involuntary and is oftentimes forceful. Bright lights, exposure to cold, and irritants like pepper are known to heighten the possibility of sneezing. When the act of coughing or sneezing is particularly violent, it's possible the force will be high enough to cause a blood vessel in an individual's eyes to rupture.

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As is the case with sneezing and coughing, vomiting is an action involving the forceful expulsion of stomach contents out of the mouth. Vomiting typically occurs because of the presence of an underlying condition. If the pressure is high enough, the strain caused by this action may lead to a broken vessel or two in the eyes. Some of the main causes of vomiting include motion sickness, a brain tumor, ulcers, overeating, a heart attack, food poisoning, emotional stress, and appendicitis. Given the fact there are many causes of vomiting, it's important for patients to obtain treatment if they continue to vomit for a lengthy period. They also should make sure to drink a substantial amount of water to avoid becoming dehydrated.

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Hypertension, high blood pressure, occurs when there's too much force of blood against the artery walls. Hypertension eventually causes an array of health problems, extending from something as minor as the rupturing of a blood vessel in the eye to something major like heart disease. It's possible to suffer from high blood pressure for numerous years without experiencing any notable symptoms, which is why it's so dangerous. While it's possible to suffer from a primary version of high blood pressure that has no cause and actually diminishes over time, this is rare. The secondary form of high blood pressure can develop from an underlying condition or poor health maintenance. It's possible a blood vessel in the eye will weaken and rupture because of this condition.

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If an individual has diabetes, their risk of developing a broken blood vessel in the eye becomes considerably higher. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy, and in addition to broken blood vessels, the condition causes other problems. In Americans, diabetic retinopathy is the main cause of new blindness. With diabetic retinopathy, the blood vessels throughout the retina change. Diabetes causes this when the body's elevated glucose levels lead to tissue damage to the lining of the eyes. There are a few levels of diabetic retinopathy. One is nonproliferative, which occurs when the patient's elevated glucose levels damage their blood vessels. The vessels then leak fluid or blood, which causes blurred vision when it collects in the retina. Proliferative retinopathy is more dangerous, and occurs when abnormally developed blood vessels form over the retina. Due to the abnormalities, these blood vessels may rupture and hemorrhage into the eye, potentially causing full blindness. If there's scarring, the patient's retina may detach, which will cause the cells to become starved of oxygen. If retinal detachments aren't treated immediately, the retina can die.

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Blood-Thinning Medication

Taking certain blood-thinning medication can increase an individual's risk of developing a broken blood vessel in the eye. Acetylsalicylic acid and warfarin are the best-documented blood thinners that lead to an elevated risk factor. Blood-thinning medications can save lives, especially if an individual is predisposed toward developing blood clots. Before starting or stopping any medications, patients should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits. They should also be sure to ask their doctor about whether any over-the-counter medications can worsen any health conditions they have. Because blood thinners slow the blood from clotting, wounds don't close as quickly. If a blood vessel becomes torn or ruptured, it will continue to bleed without clotting properly. Should an individual experience unusual bruising or bleeding in their eyes, they should call their doctor to ask if they need immediate medical treatment.

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Presence Of Blood-Clotting Conditions

The presence of blood-clotting conditions increases the risk of a broken blood vessel in the eye. If an individual's blood doesn't clot properly, torn and ruptured blood vessels can bleed excessively into their eyes or skin. There are a number of different clotting disorders. Some cause blood to clot too frequently, which can cause life-threatening problems, and some cause the blood not to clot the way it should, which can cause increased bleeding. Many risk factors can lead to increased clotting, including recent surgeries and traumas, pregnancy, obesity, cancer, certain cancer medications, hormone replacement therapy, and various illnesses. Clotting disorders can also be genetically inherited, with the most common being Factor V Leiden.

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Eye Surgery

One of the potential complications of eye surgery is a broken blood vessel in the eye. Two of the most common surgeries with this complication are cataract surgery and LASIK. Cataracts occur when the eye's inside lens becomes clouded, which leads to vision loss glasses can't correct. Surgery can typically restore an affected individual's vision, but the procedure may cause blood vessels to become ruptured or otherwise broken. LASIK is a laser surgery procedure that aims to correct a patient's vision by altering the lens of their eye. This surgery is often used to correct issues like nearsightedness and astigmatism on a permanent basis.

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Vitamin K Deficiency

It's rare for adults to experience a vitamin K deficiency, but infants can develop this condition. The biggest symptom of this deficiency is excess bleeding, which occurs because the blood can't clot. This can lead to ruptured blood vessels in the skin and eyes. It can also cause more serious complications if there's internal bleeding or a great deal of blood loss.

Two types of vitamin K have been identified by researchers. Vitamin K1 is found in kale, spinach, and other plants, and vitamin K2 is created naturally in the intestines and found in the human body. Both of these vitamins help the body produce blood-clotting proteins. Adults may develop a vitamin K deficiency if they take certain medications or have certain medical conditions that reduce their ability to absorb vitamin K.

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