A broken blood vessel in the eye.

With review and contributions from Ophthalmologist Adrian Elfersy, MD (Concord, Salisbury)

The thought of a blood vessel bursting in your eye can be scary. What happened? Should you be worried? Can anything be done about it?

What is a ruptured blood vessel?

A broken blood vessel, also known as a subconjunctival hemorrhage, is when a tiny blood vessel breaks just beneath the clear surface tissue overlying the white part of the eye.Then the blood gets trapped in the potential space between the sclera (the white part of your eye) and the conjunctiva (the clear cellophane-like tissue overlying the sclera) and can’t be quickly reabsorbed.

What causes a blood vessel in my eye to burst?

Ruptured blood vessels have a number of causes, including violent coughing, vomiting, powerful sneezes, and straining your body. Mechanical injuries from hitting or rubbing the eye can also cause a blood vessel to rupture. Oftentimes people will wake up in the morning with a subconjunctival hemorrhage, which is likely from rubbing the eye while sleeping.

People with diabetes, high blood pressure, or blood-clotting disorders, or those who take some blood-thinning medicines such as Aspirin, Plavix, Coumadin, and Eliquis, are at a much higher risk of rupturing a blood vessel in their eye.

Can a ruptured blood vessel hurt me?

While a burst blood vessel may look painful, they usually don’t hurt your eyes or affect your vision. You might feel some discomfort, such as a dull ache or even a scratchy feeling in the eye, however.

Do I need to visit a doctor?

Fortunately, a ruptured blood vessel in your eye is generally a minor self-limiting injury and will heal on its own within one to two weeks. Usually, you don’t need to see a doctor. However, if the rupture was caused by an injury, you are unsure of the cause, or if you are having any other symptoms such as pain or vision changes, then a doctor’s visit is always a good idea.

What can I do for my ruptured blood vessel?

Adrian Elfersy, MD

There is not a whole lot you can do to speed the recovery, but you can treat any discomfort with over-the-counter artificial lubricating drops. CEENTA Eye Doctor Adrian Elfersy, MD, said.

Can I prevent blood vessels in my eye from bursting?

If you take blood-thinning medicine or have another medical condition that could exacerbate burst blood vessels, talk with your doctor about what you could do to minimize your risk. Try to avoid anything that could traumatize your eyes, such as rubbing them excessively.

A broken blood vessel in the eye shouldn’t be a source of fear. However, if your eye was injured or if you have any vision concerns, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a CEENTA eye doctor today.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. Would you like an appointment with Dr. Elfersy? Call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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March 03, 2021

Thank you for your information. I thought my blood spot in my eye was the sign of an impending stroke.
- Lyn

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