6 Reasons You Have a Popped Blood Vessel in Your Eye

A popped blood vessel in the eye, medically known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage, occurs when a tiny blood vessel just beneath the surface of the eye bursts. While it can look alarming, it’s usually harmless and resolves on its own without treatment. However, understanding the causes can help you prevent future occurrences or identify when it might be a sign of a more serious issue. Here are six reasons why you might experience this condition.

1. Physical Strain

Physical strain ranks as a prevalent trigger for subconjunctival hemorrhages, a condition where tiny blood vessels beneath the eye’s surface rupture, often without causing pain. This phenomenon is typically brought on by activities that momentarily elevate blood pressure within the head. For instance, lifting heavy weights, engaging in vigorous exercise, or experiencing intense episodes of coughing, sneezing, or laughter can exert enough force to cause these delicate vessels to burst. Similarly, engaging in high-impact sports or activities that demand significant physical exertion can increase the risk of experiencing this eye condition. While the appearance of a red patch in the eye can be alarming, it’s usually harmless and resolves on its own, serving as a reminder of the eye’s vulnerability to physical stress and strain.

2. Eye Trauma

Eye trauma is a direct and straightforward cause of subconjunctival hemorrhage, where a blood vessel in the eye bursts following an injury. This condition can result from various forms of impact, including rubbing the eye with too much force, being struck in the eye area, or experiencing any other kind of direct physical contact. The trauma inflicted by such actions can easily damage the eye’s delicate blood vessels, causing them to rupture and bleed beneath the conjunctiva. This leads to the visible appearance of a red or bloodshot eye, often causing alarm, though it typically does not result in lasting damage or significant pain. The eye, with its intricate network of blood vessels, is particularly susceptible to injury, underscoring the importance of protecting it from harm and seeking immediate medical attention when necessary.

3. High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) can increase the risk of experiencing a subconjunctival hemorrhage. When blood pressure is consistently high, it puts extra stress on the blood vessels, including those in the eye, making them more prone to bursting. Monitoring and managing high blood pressure is crucial for many aspects of health, including eye health.

4. Blood Thinning Medications

Medications designed to prevent blood clots can increase the likelihood of a subconjunctival hemorrhage. These medications, such as aspirin, warfarin, or clopidogrel, reduce the blood’s ability to clot, which can lead to easier bleeding, including in the eyes. If you’re on blood thinners and notice frequent occurrences, it might be worth discussing with your doctor.

5. Vitamin Deficiency

A deficiency in certain vitamins, particularly vitamin K and vitamin C, can impair blood clotting and the health of blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of popped blood vessels in the eye. Vitamin K is essential for the production of clotting factors, while vitamin C is crucial for maintaining the health and integrity of blood vessels.

6. Aging

As we age, our blood vessels become more fragile and prone to breaking. The aging process can lead to more frequent occurrences of subconjunctival hemorrhages, even without significant trauma or strain. This is a natural part of aging, but maintaining overall health can help minimize the risk.

When to See a Doctor

While a subconjunctival hemorrhage is usually harmless and resolves within two weeks, there are times when seeing a doctor is advisable. If you experience pain, vision changes, or if the redness does not start to improve after a few days, it could be a sign of a more serious condition. Additionally, if you have recurrent episodes, it’s important to get checked to rule out underlying health issues.

In conclusion, a popped blood vessel in the eye can be alarming, but it’s often not a cause for concern. Understanding the potential reasons behind it—ranging from physical strain to underlying health conditions—can help you take steps to prevent future occurrences or recognize when it might be more serious. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing conditions like high blood pressure, and avoiding unnecessary eye trauma can all contribute to reducing your risk.

If you’re experiencing frequent subconjunctival hemorrhages or have concerns about your eye health, it’s important to consult a specialist. At Empire Retina Consultants, we’re dedicated to providing expert care for a wide range of retinal and eye health issues. Our team is here to help you understand your symptoms and find the best treatment options. Give us a call at 718-646-2025 to learn more or to schedule an appointment. Your eye health is our top priority, and we’re here to support you every step of the way.