broken blood vessel in eye with headache

Written by Dr.Bayat
Associate Professor of Orthopedic expert,Brigham Hostpital

Do you have a ruptured artery in your eye and are you worried?

Do red eyes and headaches indicate a serious and dangerous problem?

If you look in the mirror and notice broken capillaries on your eye, join us to provide you with enough information about Broken vessel in eye and headache.



Rupture of the capillaries on the surface of the eye is a very common occurrence that most cases occur in the absence of serious and worrying causes. Doctors say the most common cause of rupture of the small arteries in the eye is the pressure to do things like sneezing, coughing, straining when defecating, lifting weights, and lifting heavy objects. During these exercises, the pressure inside the veins of the head and neck will temporarily increase, so the thin capillaries of the eye will not last with this transient increase in pressure and will be torn.


Fracture of the thin arteries of the eye

Common bleeding from the surface of your eye, following the breaking and rupture of delicate capillaries, occurs in an area of ​​the eyeball that doctors call Subconjunctival.

So subconjunctival hemorrhages are common and occur spontaneously and without any serious cause for concern at any age.

One eye or both eyes may be involved.

Doctors believe that the structure of the human eye is such that it will absorb the bleeding within two to three weeks.

Therefore, no special treatment is required for common subconjunctival hemorrhages.

Although these hemorrhages are very common and harmless, sometimes it is scary to see blood in the sclera, but know that this rupture of blood vessels will not affect your vision and there is usually no eye pain.

Sometimes some people say that they have neither pain nor vision problems, and when they noticed the rupture of blood vessels and bleeding on the surface of their eyes, they looked in the mirror or those around them told them.


Why do the arteries of the eye rupture?

The most common causes of ocular rupture:

Increased intracranial pressure and increased pressure inside the head and neck

Actions such as:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • crying
  • Straining when defecating
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • lifting weight


Sometimes trauma causes bleeding

Sometimes even a simple but firm eye rub

Trauma to the eye

In the above cases, the subconjunctival vessels rupture and the bleeding appears as a red spot in the white of the eye.

In cases of trauma to the head or a severe blow to the face, these subconjunctival hemorrhages are associated with headache.


Other causes of bleeding in the eye

Here are some other causes of bleeding in the eye:


In people with diabetes who have uncontrolled blood sugar, over time, inflammation of the walls of the thin arteries of the eye will develop. Following this inflammation, the arteries become very fragile and rupture.

When rupture of arteries occurs in the vessels of the back of the eyeball, called the retina, bleeding occurs at the back of the eye, which on the examination with ophthalmology slit lamp will be visible in the form of spots.

The retina is the membrane that plays a major role in our vision. In cases where bleeding occurs in the retinal arteries for any reason, vision will be impaired.

Blurred vision:

Eye floaters and… in the visual field and there is a decrease in visual acuity and even irreversible blindness following rupture and bleeding of retinal arteries in diabetics.

Consumption of blood thinners:

Warfarin / Coumadin


And hypertension


One of the rare but very important causes of ruptured arteries and bleeding in the eye is systemic disorders that lead to bleeding, so if you have a disorder or are taking medication that makes bleeding easier, you must take the eye examination seriously.

In this article, if we talk about subconjunctival hemorrhages and say that they resolve on their own and do not need treatment, we emphasize here that fractures of the arteries of the back of the eye and retinal hemorrhages are very important and serious and must be examined and treated immediately by an ophthalmologist.

Subconjunctival hemorrhages are a single, red spot among the whites of the eyes, sometimes causing scattered redness on the visible surface of your eye.

Conjunctiva is a very thin layer that covers under the eyelid and on the white of your eye. Conjunctiva is said to have many vessels that are the most delicate vessels in the human body.

When these very thin vessels break and rupture, the blood that comes out of them spreads between the conjunctiva and the sclera, which is called the sclera layer.


Can this rupture of the arteries of the eye be associated with a headache?

Yes, if for any reason the pressure in the veins of the head and neck is increased, for example, there is a tumor in the apex of the right lung which has caused a partial obstruction in the venous drainage path of the head and neck. In these cases, due to high pressure, the thin arteries of the eye are broken and the pressure inside the skull rises and there will be a headache.


Treatment of subconjunctival hemorrhages:

There is usually no need for treatment. Sometimes, when the red spot is large, it takes weeks for the spot to be absorbed spontaneously.

If you have eye irritation or other symptoms, it is best to see an ophthalmologist.

A less common type of eye bleeding occurs in the colored part of the outer surface of the eye. Bleeding in the iris and pupil is called hyphema, although it is rare but it causes more serious conditions than normal subconjunctival hemorrhage.

And in the end, the rupture of the arteries inside the eye and the back of the eye, although not seen in the appearance of the eyes, is very serious.


Types of eye bleeding

Three types of eye bleeding following vascular rupture were investigated:

In the following, we will enumerate the symptoms of these three categories only separately:


  • Subconjunctival hemorrhage:

Scattered redness in the whites of the eyes


Red spot concentrated in the sclera


Without blurred vision

Without disturbing vision

Sometimes there is a feeling of irritation on the surface of the eye or scratching or burning

Sometimes a person feels fullness in the eye


  • hyphema:

In hyphema, blood clots form in the pupil, iris, and cornea, and will usually occur following rupture or damage to the pupil and iris; it is less common than subconjunctival hemorrhage, but on the contrary, hyphema will be painful.


  • Eye pain
  • blurred vision
  • Blood that will be visible in front of the colored part or pupil of the eye
  • turbidity in the eye
  • Sensitivity to light or photophobia
  • and obstruction of the visual field due to bleeding

In small cases of hyphema, bleeding may not be seen on the naked eye.


  • Eye tumors
  • Infections, especially the herpes virus
  • Abnormal vessels on the iris
  • Underlying coagulation problems


  • Deeper eye bleeding:

These hemorrhages cannot be seen with the naked eye, but they are very important and serious:

Vitreous hemorrhages

Subretinal bleeding

Bleeding in the macular that can cause blindness.


Symptoms of bleeding in the back of the eyes

Recognize the symptoms of bleeding in the back of the eye:

  • Inflation
  • Feeling of pressure in the eyes
  • Feeling of heaviness in the eyes
  • Reddish vision
  • blurred vision  
  • Seeing light flashes in the field of view
  • Seeing swimming objects in the field of view


Types of drugs and underlying disorders

Finally, we take a look at the types of medications and underlying disorders that occur with eye bleeding and sometimes headaches:

  • Systemic disorders:
  • Diabetes and diabetic retinopathy
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Rupture or detachment of the retina or Decolman Retina
  • Vascular aneurysm of the eye
  • Hemoglobin disorders such as sickle cell retinopathy
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Retinal vein occlusion
  • Terson syndrome
  • Bacterial and viral infections of the eye


  • allergies


  • medicines:
  • Hepatitis
  • Warfarin / Coumadin
  • rivaroxaban / xarelto
  • Dabigatran / Pradaxa
  • Aspirin
  • Naproxen, Ibuprofen


In what cases should we see a doctor?

You should see a doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Visual changes
  • Excessive redness of the eyes and around the eyes
  • Bruising and swelling around the eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Diplopia
  • blurred vision 
  • Observing swimming objects in the field of view
  • Sensitivity to touch


Written by Dr.Bayat
Associate Professor of Orthopedic expert,Brigham Hostpital



  • A. V. Stanton, B. Wasan et al., "Vascular network changes in the retina with age and hypertension", Journal of Hypertension, vol.

  • Nicholas Witt et al., "Abnormalities of retinal microvascular structure and risk of mortality from ischemic heart disease and stroke", Hypertension, vol. 47.5, pp.

  • Bashir Al-Diri et al., "Joining retinal vessel segments", BioInformatics and BioEngineering 2008. BIBE 2008. 8th IEEE International Conference on.

  • J. J. Staal, M. D. Abramoff, M. Niemeijer, M. A. Viergever and B. Van Ginneken, "Ridge based vessel segmentation in color images of the retina", IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, vol. 

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