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What Causes Broken or Burst Blood Vessels in the Eyes?

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A broken blood vessel in the eye is known as a sub-conjunctival haemorrhage. It can look pretty horrific (as in the above image), but it will not cause any damage to your eyesight. It is, however, cosmetically unpleasant.

Normally, the first thing you will notice is an unsightly red patch over part, or all, of the white of your eye. Most of the time they will appear with no apparent cause (although, they can be triggered by trauma to the eye amongst other things that I shall cover below). More often than not, you will not feel any pain or sensation when you have experienced a sub-conjunctival haemorrhage, although occasionally you might feel a slight stinging or irritation.

The leaked blood is held in place by the conjunctiva, (a thin membrane that covers the surface of your eye). The conjunctiva does not cover the iris of the eye though, so it is impossible for the leaked blood to interfere with your vision.

Other causes for a sub-conjunctival haemorrhage include high blood pressure, constipation, stress, coughing or sneezing excessively, and on rare occasions, they can be associated with blood clotting problems in people taking aspirin, anticoagulents, or people who already have a history of blood clotting disorders.

Most of the time you will not need to take any action to get rid of the broken blood vessel in your eye. Like a bruise, it will gradually change colour and vanish over the next few days or weeks (depending on the severity of the bleed). It may take a little longer than a normal bruise to disappear because the conjunctiva is so thin that a certain amount of oxygen can still get to the blood.

High Blood Pressure

This is the most common cause of broken blood vessels in the eyes (as well as many other health problems including heart attacks, strokes etc.). It is crucial that you do everything in your power to keep your blood pressure down at healthy levels, and apart from obvious factors such as eating a heart healthy diet and regular exercise, you can also include some natural supplements in your diet such as garlic capsules, hawthorn, or folic acid. (Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements.)

Fish is part of a heart-heathy diet.

Fish is part of a heart-heathy diet.

A Heart Healthy Diet


Excessive alcohol

5 portions of any fruit or vegetables per day (canned, fresh frozen etc)

Excessive salt

2 portions of fish per week, at least one of which should be oily such as mackerel, trout or salmon

Saturated fats

Cereal, rice, and pasta

Chemical food additives such as MSG


Dairy products








Another common cause of subconjunctival hemorrhages is constipation. The straining involved in passing a stubborn bowel movement can cause blood vessels to rupture—not just in the eyes, but also in the anus (causing hemorrhoids).

To avoid constipation:

  • Always make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Try to include plenty of fibre in your diet in the form of fruit and vegetables.
  • Regular exercise can also keep things "moving," so if nothing else, try to take a brisk 10 minute walk every day.
  • Train yourself to go to the toilet and pass a bowel movement every morning. The longer you leave the stool in the bowel, the harder it will be to ultimately pass it at all.
  • Try taking additives such as Triphala which consists of three herbs: amla (emblica officinalis), harada (terminalia chebula), and behada (terminalia belerica).
  • Avoid certain foods dairy products, red meats, fried foods, and chips.


Stress is often difficult to avoid as we have to go through our day to day lives facing bills, sick relatives, pressures at work etc, but you can help to minimise the stress this causes you in a number of ways.

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Read More From Youmemindbody

How to deal with stressful situations:

  1. Avoid the situation.
  2. Adapt to the situation.
  3. Alter the situation.
  4. Accept the situation.

Coughing and Sneezing

Needless to say we all cough and sneeze at one time or another. It is not something you can really do much about unless it is happening to an inappropriate degree, (in which case, you should consult your GP). Obviously, if you have a bad cold then you are going to snuffle, sneeze, and cough, so the best thing you can do is try to take lots of Vitamin C, stay warm, and (if possible) take some cough medicine that will reduce the symptoms of a cold until you have fully recovered.

Above All

Don't panic! This condition does not mean that you are in imminent danger of a stroke or that you have developed a brain tumour. It is, in fact, very common and can happen for no apparent reason whatsoever. It might look a bit unsightly for a while, but it will soon vanish leaving you none the worse for your experience.



Mayo Clinic Staff. "Subconjunctival Hemorrhage (Broken Blood Vessel in Eye)." October 2016. MayoClinic. Retrieved April 16, 2017.

Boyd, Kierstan. "What Is a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage?" Last reviewed September 1, 2016. The American Academy of Opthamology. Retrieved April 16, 2017.

Kenny, Tim, MD. "What Is a Subconjunctival Haemorrhage?" Last checked December 2016. Patient.Info. Retrieved April 16, 2017.

Lusby, Franklin W., MD. "Subconjunctival Hemorrhage." Last reviewed November 2015. University of Maryland Medical Centre. Retrieved April 16, 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on September 21, 2018:

That is good news Phyllis. So many possible causes, but ideally you would prefer high blood pressure not to be the reason :)

Phyllis on September 20, 2018:

I just had an eye hemorrhage and went to my othomiligist? And he told me is not caused by hi blood pressure. Amen

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 29, 2018:

You are very welcome Ashraff

Ashraff Rajwani on August 29, 2018:

Very informative... Thank you so much

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on July 12, 2017:

Sorry Amit, that is well outside my knowledge area. I would get your eyes checked out by a specialist to be on the safe side.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 19, 2017:

Hi Joyce, this is not uncommon in diabetics, but if you are concerned or are in any discomfort I would see your doctor to make sure nothing else is causing the problem.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 19, 2017:

Hi Haider, I hope your Dad found this helpful and am pleased you found this informative.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 19, 2017:

Hi Beauty, most likely the blurry vision is as a result of the cataract surgery. I hope that by now his vision is clear again.

joyce downing on April 19, 2017:

woke up with vessels broken and whole eye is maroon in color and blurry. feels like i have somethong covering eyeball. i am diabetic

Haider from Melbourne on February 24, 2017:

My father has this problem. But he never understood the reason. It has been more than ten years and he still doesn't know. Honestly, he never bothered to ask the doctor about sub-conjunctival hemorrhage. I will share this information with him and let him know what he should do.

He has a blood pressure and is very stressed all the time. So according to your hub that maybe the reason.

Informative hub!

Beauty on January 20, 2017:

Very enlightening, thank-you.

My father just had eye surgery in one eye for cataracts about a week ago, and got a burst eye vessel during surgery. Doctors say he would be fine and I'm sure he would be. He has blurry vision though. Is that from the surgery or from the burst vessel?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 09, 2017:

Hi Jo, if you are experiencing pain I would recommend seeing a doctor to be on the safe side.

Jo on January 09, 2017:

If you have a painful pulling feeling in the corner of the eye along with the bleed is there reason for concern.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on January 07, 2017:

Hi Andrew, if this 'beating up' happened recently it could well just be a case of waiting for your body to heal and the broken blood vessels will eventually stop occurring. However, if this has been going on for more than a week I would advise you consult your doctor in case some kind of other damage has been done to your brain or eyes that requires medical attention.

andrew on January 06, 2017:

i got beat up and i had a black eye byt now my eyes keep getting blood shot what do i do

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 17, 2016:

Glad to be of help Rafael :)

Rafael on November 17, 2016:

I didn't even know my eye was redshoot until someone mentioned I didn't even paid any attention to it, I'm in the middle of selling one of my houses so since it didn't hurt I kept on doing what I needed to do. I friend put some red eyes drops in my eye last night I still didn't even looked in the mirror until this morning still no pain but geeezzluizzz I never seen my eye so red before, so now I'm concern but after reading this hub I'm more ok, I will go see a Doctor just in case its always best to play it safe. Thank you for the info.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 04, 2016:

I can't give you an answer I am afraid mousumi. I am not an expert in Tumeric, but guess if it is a blood thinning agent it could have caused the problem. If you are comcerned I would get your eye checked out by a doctor, but would give it a few days first to see if it heals on its own.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 06, 2016:

Lol, glad to be of help shivv.

shivv on April 06, 2016:


thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on November 22, 2015:

Hi Shaun, it depends on how bad the injury was as to how long it will take to go, but generally think of it like a bruise in the eye therefore somewhere between a few days to a week. It is not advisable to rub the eye whilst it is healing even though it may itch a bit, as this could spread the blood spot in the early stages and delay the healing process.

Shaun on November 22, 2015:

Thx for the information got me calmed down my mom while feeding the dogs got her eye accidentally got hit by our dog using the dogs leg anyway I was shock my moms eye started becoming red like the picture before I read this.How long do you think will the red eye last?Another question as well if you rub the eye accidentally will the red color part of the eye spread?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 23, 2015:

Hi Superchamp. Might be worth your while getting yourself checked out by an eye specialist and/or a doctor in case your blood pressure etc has anything to do with why this keeps happening to you.

superchamp on August 23, 2015:

Hi Misty,thanks for the info. I had this problem 4 times in the last 4 months.usually lasting for a week. but this time it occurred 3 days back , intensity is more and it may take another week to vanish. Initially it took me by surprise but gradually i could feel an itching pain while it occurred.Even a mild sensation can be felt ocationally. Pressure generally normal but found to be little fluctuating after such incidence.other probable causes are absent.

can u suggest further course of action.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 13, 2015:

No problem Nancy. Good luck :)

Nancy Dunaway on August 13, 2015:

Thanks for the super fast response!

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on August 13, 2015:

Hi Nancy, it could be a part of the healing and bruising process, but my honest advice would be to get it checked out just in case based in the headaches and sensitivity to light. Always best to be on the safe side.

Nancy Dunaway on August 13, 2015:

Hi there. I got sick to my stomach this past Sunday, after a crying spell. I looked in the mirror and had two bloody eyes - below the visible part of my eyes. Over the past few days, the red has traveled up into the visible part of my eye and the outside of my eyes are yellow and dark looking. I have been sensitive to light, and have had some mild headaches and general eye irritation. Does all of this sound like part of the healing process?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on July 25, 2014:

Might be an idea to get it checked out if it has 'bumps'. Aspirin might not be a good idea as it could cause further bleeding and a repeat of the problem due to it thinning the blood. check this out with your doctor or eye specialist.

best robot on July 25, 2014:

My wife just had one when I came home from work. There seems to be a bump that is slightly darker with the blood going out each side. I was wondering if darker areas or slight bumps are normal. She has taken asprin last night and some multivitamins but no trauma to the eye.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on July 08, 2014:

You are very welcome Nataniel, good luck with the book.

Nataniel on July 08, 2014:

I'm writing a book where a character suffers through an injury resulting in burst blood vessels in the eye, and seeing all the pictures and knowing how long it can take to clear up was am amazing help to me! Thank you so much for putting all of this together. :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on May 10, 2014:

It might last several weeks benbasyar, but if you're getting double vision I would recommend getting yourself checked out by a doctor or an eye specialist in case there is other damage.

benbasyar on May 10, 2014:

hi. i had been punched in the eye and now i got a black eye and the white eye is bleeding. i kinda have a doublevision at my first sight then it returns back to normal vision. how long will it last? its about a week now

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 24, 2014:

This could be an allergic reaction Dane, but might be worth getting a doctor or an eye specialist to take a look if it gets any worse. If your blood pressure was up, or you had overstrained when constipated etc you could theoretically get bleeding in both eyes if you broke blood vessels in both at the same time, however, if you are 'feeling' a problem in your eyes when around dogs then this could simply be an allergy issue.

Dane on March 24, 2014:

Hmm, informative article. Good information. I have a question though: Is there some kind of reaction that can cause minor bleeding in both eyes at the same time? I was cleaning a neighbors carpet today and noticed a minor bit of a bloodshot look a bit later. It has gotten a bit worse with my left eye and there is a very small amount of blood in my right eye. I just assumed it was an allergic reaction to the neighbors dog but I'm not so sure anymore. I've been around dogs my whole life and never had a problem except last week I noticed I started to react a bit to a dog I was watching. After today I figured I was developing a pet allergy. Like I said though, I'm not sure anymore.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on March 13, 2014:

Lol EFFENDI, it isn't fun I agree, but you will soon be back to normal.

EFFENDI on March 13, 2014:

I just hate looking like a vampire all the time :(

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on February 18, 2014:

I would suspect this is as a result of the crying Allie (so sorry to hear about your Grandfather). This could be stress related as this in itself could have risen your blood pressure. I am sure they will soon recover once you begin to relax again.

Allie on February 18, 2014:

I have this happening in both my eyes, is that common? The only thing that has happened is a lot of crying. I lost my grandfather a couple days ago and I had been crying for the whole day mostly. Then the next day my husband noticed my eye was all red. When I looked in the mirror I noticed the other one was too. Luckily that one is hidden mostly under the eyelid. I'm just curious if crying can cause this, or if something else is happening.

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 14, 2013:

It has been years since I had one Dee Bee, so to be honest I can't recall. What I would suggest is that as this is effectively a 'bruise' on the eye (and bruises tend to ache) then it is possible.

Dee Bee on December 14, 2013:

Dear Mistyhorizon2003, Just wanted to say a big thank you for doing this article on the eye and photos on the stages of healing... that will guide and help so many people. I got this problem yesterday having never had it before and was beside myself. I have been to the optician, who took a picture of the back of my eyes so we could see the inside of my eye and blood vessels. At the time it looked like a varicous vein but today it looked like your blood-filled eye hence I looked it up. He sent me away with eyedrops.

Just one question- did your eye feel achy and a bit like eye strain during the first couple of days?

Craa on December 12, 2013:

Thank you for your response! :)

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on December 12, 2013:

Hi Craa, I would think it could be because in the night you change positions so gravity could then pull the bleeding the other way. I am not an expert though, so you could double check this with your doctor.

Craa on December 12, 2013:

I woke up with a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage yesterday morning in the upper part of my left eyeball (under the eyelid). By the evening it had spread down towards the iris. Went to the doc last night to have it checked out. He said it spread downwards due to gravity. Went to bed last night, woke up this morning and the left side has also spread right towards the iris. Could this be from gravity too? How do I know it's not still bleeding?

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on October 14, 2013:

Hi blood pressure is a cause for concern, and one of the causes of broken blood vessels in the eye is high blood pressure. I suspect you will be put on medication to help reduce your blood pressure and possible be given dietary advice to help keep it down. It would be impossible for me to say if you are panicking for no reason because high blood pressure can be connected to so many conditions, e.g. heart problems etc. Hopefully in your case it will be nothing too serious and the doctor is just being on the safe side.

borotash on October 14, 2013:

had this happen to me 3 times this year. i suffer allergies so always sneezing and rubbing eyes. a friend has put the willies up me saying that was the symptoms his sister had when they found a brain tumour. i have been told off the dr today my blood pressure is slightly high and shes sending me for an urgent appointment at hospital. am i flapping for no reason

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on June 04, 2013:

Hi Sara, if you read my answer to the person who commented immediately before yours, you will see they asked the same question. Rather than type out much the same answer again it is probably easier just to suggest you read my answer immediately above.

Sara on June 04, 2013:

Can you still where contacts with a burst blood vessel in the eye? I've waiting about 3 days to wear them but I was wondering if it was safe to do so??

Cindy Lawson (author) from Guernsey (Channel Islands) on April 14, 2013: