What if the only symptom you have is what appears to be bleeding in an eye? Could this mean a stroke or possibly one in the near future?

There are two kinds of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic.

When you wonder about bleeding in an eye, you’re probably thinking of the type of stroke that bleeds in the brain (hemorrhagic).

The type of stroke that most people think of, however, is the kind that results from a blood clot in the brain, cutting off oxygen (ischemic) and resulting in symptoms such as slurred speech or sudden one-sided paralysis.

Bleeding in One Eye: Stroke?

“Vitreal [vitreous] hemorrhage or retinal hemorrhage are not considered as hemorrhagic stroke,” says Atif Zafar, MD, medical director of St. Michaels Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and former director of the stroke program at University of New Mexico Hospital.

“These events are also emergencies that need urgent evaluation by an ophthalmologist,” adds Dr. Zafar.

“As a stroke neurologist, I recommend patients to visit emergency room for sudden loss of vision.

“Once it is confirmed that there is a bleed in one eye, optimal triage can be done.”

Possible Causes of Bleeding in One Eye

• Trauma including forceful rubbing

• Hard sneezing or coughing

• Vomiting

• Heavy lifting

• Constipation (from the bearing down in an attempt to expel BMs)

• Infections

• Allergic reaction

• Contact lenses

• Blood thinner drugs

• Age related macular degeneration

• Retinal detachment or tear

• Many other medical conditions including cancer of the eye

What’s even more concerning is if there are other symptoms along with the bleeding, such as:

• Pain or tenderness

• Swelling

• Eye bulging

• Pressure

• Abnormal tearing

• Discharge

• Impaired vision

• Bruising around the eye

So even though you need not worry about a hemorrhagic stroke, you DO need to take notice of an unexplained bleeding in one eye – especially if there are other symptoms — and see an ophthalmologist.

Dr. Zafar is author of the book, “Why Doctors Need to Be Leaders.” His interests include vascular and endovascular neurology, and the neurosciences.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  


Top image: ©Lorra Garrick