Can Stress Cause Burst Blood Vessels in the Eye?

Last Editorial Review: 7/6/2017

Ask the experts

Recently, many blood vessels burst in my eye. I'm pregnant and under a lot of stress. Could stress have caused the blood vessels to burst?

Doctor's response

The conjunctiva, the thin, watery membrane that coasts the eye, contains many small blood vessels. Occasionally, these blood vessels can burst and led to hemorrhage (bleeding) that appears as a red patch on the white of the eye. In the majority of cases, this type of bleeding (called subconjunctival hemorrhage) occurs without a known cause. Subconjunctival hemorrhage can also result from certain medical conditions including trauma, high blood pressure, eye infections, and bleeding disorders. The straining associated with vomiting, coughing, or sneezing can also sometimes lead to subconjunctival hemorrhage. Stress is not a recognized cause of subconjunctival hemorrhage.

The good news is, if you had a conjunctival hemorrhage, these are only cosmetically annoying but go away and do not endanger the vision.

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Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


"Evaluation of the red eye"