Causes, Treatment, What to Do
A burst blood vessel in the eye can look alarming, but it’s usually not serious. Most popped blood vessels in the eye heal on their own within a couple of weeks. However, there are some situations when you may want to seek medical care.
A popped blood vessel in the eye is a common injury. Known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage, this injury causes a visible dot or patch of blood to appear on the white of your eye.
Although it can look alarming, a burst blood vessel in the eye isn’t usually serious. Symptoms are often limited to redness and minor eye itching.
It’s relatively easy to pop a blood vessel in your eye by simply sneezing, coughing, or rubbing your eyes vigorously. Fortunately, this injury typically heals easily and without treatment.
There are many reasons why a blood vessel in your eye might burst. In nearly all cases, a popped blood vessel in the eye isn’t painful. You might not even notice it’s happened until you see your eye in a mirror or until someone points it out to you.
Possible causes can include:
- An object in your eye: Something small getting in your eye can cause a blood vessel to rupture.
- Rubbing your eyes: Pressing on your eyes or rubbing them harder than usual may cause a blood vessel to burst.
- Old or dirty contact lenses: Substances can build up on the surface of contact lenses over time. This can irritate your eyes and lead to the rupture of a blood vessel.
- Contact lens removal: Removing contact lenses too quickly or putting pressure on your eye while you do so can cause injury.
- Trauma to the eye: Being hit in the eye with an object or fist or even having a fall very often results in subconjunctival hemorrhage.
- Eyestrain: Some people notice a popped blood vessel after heavy computer work or long hours of reading.
- Repeated powerful sneezing: Allergies or a cold can occasionally lead to a burst blood vessel due to heavy sneezing.
- A hacking cough: Just like sneezing, coughing can affect the blood vessels in your eye, especially if your coughing is more intense than usual.
- Vomiting: The strain of vomiting can lead to a popped blood vessel.
- Conjunctivochalasis: This is a condition that causes excessive tissue to grow on your eye. The excess tissue can lead to irritation and burst vessels.
- Pinguecula: Pinguecula is a condition that causes a noncancerous growth in your eye that can lead to burst blood vessels.
- Recent eye surgery: You may notice burst blood vessels in your eyes right after you have had eye surgery.
Some health conditions can increase the risk of a burst blood vessel in the eye. These include:
Blood-thinning medications are also known to increase the risk of a burst blood vessel in the eye.
Normally, a popped blood vessel in the eye is nothing to worry about. It can heal on its own without treatment. You typically don’t need to see a doctor.
However, there may be times when a burst blood vessel in the eye needs medical attention. For instance, you’ll want to see a doctor if you have:
- had several burst blood vessels in your eyes recently
- a burst blood vessel in your eye after a facial or head injury
- additional symptoms such as vision loss, eye swelling, or eye pain
- unexplained bleeding or bruising on other parts of your body
There’s no treatment for a burst blood vessel in the eye. It typically heals on its own in a week or two.
If your eye feels itchy, you can use over-the-counter eye drops to soothe your eye. Artificial tears or other moisturizing drops are often a good choice.
In most cases, your eye will reabsorb the blood in about 1 to 2 weeks. You don’t typically need to take any medication or follow any specific guidelines during this time.
However, you may want to avoid touching your eyes and allow them to rest while they’re healing. For instance, if you wear contact lenses, you may want to consider not wearing your contacts until your eye starts improving.
A burst blood vessel in the eye can look like a serious injury, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. Popped vessels in the eye can happen relatively easily. They can be caused by rubbing your eyes, coughing, or sneezing, or by inserting or removing your contact lenses.
A burst blood vessel in the eye typically heals on its own in about 1 to 2 weeks. It doesn’t typically require treatment.
However, if you frequently have burst blood vessels in your eye, have been injured, or have other symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention to determine if there are underlying issues that need to be addressed.