Why do blood vessels burst in eyes?

red eye image by Ken Marshall from Fotolia.com

A burst blood vessel in the eyes is a relatively common problem that can have many sources. Some people experience pain when this occurs; however, this ailment is often painless and noticeable only due to a red or dark patch in the white of the eye.

Although popped blood vessels in the eye happen frequently, some conditions cause redness in the eye and may actually be symptoms of a larger problem or disease.

What is a burst blood vessel?

When a blood vessel bursts in the eye, it is known as subconjunctival haemorrhage. According to MayoClinic.com, this occurs when a blood vessel breaks beneath the clear surface of the eye. The clear portion of the eye (the conjuctiva) is not able to absorb the blood rapidly; therefore, the blood is trapped beneath this area. This is why the eye appears to have a dark red mark for up to 14 days. This type of eye condition ordinarily does not require doctor assistance.


A common reason that blood vessels burst in the eyes is simple strain. This strain may be brought on by regular bodily functions such as sneezing, coughing or vomiting. Burst blood vessels might also result from heavy weightlifting or strenuous exercise.


Direct contact to the eye in the form of some injury can also cause blood vessels to burst. This may be from something as subtle as gently bumping the eye or it may be from something more severe such as being struck in the eye with a sharp object.

Diabetic eye disease

Some diabetics may suffer from an eye disease, which is characterised by the breakage of small and delicate blood vessels in the eye. This condition causes instant loss of vision in the infected eye. For this reason, sufferers of diabetes should visit an eye doctor regularly to prevent the onset of this condition.

Red eye

According to OhioLionsEyeResearch.com, red eye involves the swelling of blood vessels in the eye because they retain more blood than normal. This condition may result from glaucoma, fatigue, an allergic reaction, an infection and other serious diseases. Individuals suffering from this ailment should visit a doctor if they experience pain, have loss of vision, notice a discharge from the eye or notice that their cornea is clouded.

Blood in the eye

When blood appears in the eye between the cornea and pupil, this is known as a hyphema. This condition may be a warning that glaucoma will occur, which can lead to complete vision loss. Therefore, this specific eye affliction should receive doctor attention immediately.