creepy eye
February 24, 2011 5:45 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend burst a blood vessel in his eye while doing an inverted weightlifting exercise today. Is this something to worry about?

If it were me, I'd ask my doctor, but he's a guy and doesn't go in regularly unless something truly terrifying happens. He says, "I tried some inverted exercise that didn't seem too difficult - it was the blood rush to my head."

Athletic folks: is this something worth getting checked out (re: blood pressure or something else), or just a thing that happens when you don't coddle your body the way I do? He's in his mid-twenties, healthy as far as he knows, and has been working out regularly for about nine months (CrossFit).
posted by you're a kitty! to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Probably worth getting a doctor's opinion but I have burst blood vessels in my eye before while powerlifting, throwing up hard enough, and for no obvious reason at all. It takes three or four days to clear up with no I'll effects.
posted by tamitang at 5:52 PM on February 24, 2011

ill effects...stupid autocorrecting iPhone.
posted by tamitang at 5:53 PM on February 24, 2011

Cross-fit is pretty notorious for promoting a suck-it-up attitude towards pain and injury. Which is fine, I guess, if you're talking about the ordinary pain that comes from a particularly hard workout. But you're talking about something which could potentially have a long-term effect on his vision and/or appearance. I think it's perfectly reasonable for you to pester him until he sees a doctor.
posted by embrangled at 5:53 PM on February 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

When I burst a blood vessel in my eye (for no apparent reason), my mom the nurse told me to go to the doctor if it was affecting my vision. Otherwise, it would clear up on its own. And it did.
posted by jenmakes at 5:59 PM on February 24, 2011

Unless it start affecting his vision or worsening in some way, I wouldn't worry. It usually will just clear up eventually.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 6:00 PM on February 24, 2011

I had this happen just a few weeks ago - while it looked awful and made me feel faint every time I looked in a mirror, my eye doctor said there was no need to go in, so I didn't. It took over three weeks to completely fade away, during which time I had to put up with annoying comments from everyone who noticed, so I extend my sympathy in advance to your boyfriend.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 6:06 PM on February 24, 2011

IANAD, not medical advice.

The fancy term for what you describe: subconjunctival hemorrhage.

It's a pretty minor injury, but I'd be a little concerned about the possibility he's holding his breath during the exertional phase of the lift, which is a bad habit. (See Valsalva maneuver.)
posted by gingerest at 6:14 PM on February 24, 2011

My friend just had a burst blood vessel in her eye. The doctor told her that dry weather makes this more common, and recommended fake tears (really, you can buy them) and a humidifier. But, it's his eyes. Don't trust strangers on this; call the local ER or your doctor.
posted by theora55 at 6:14 PM on February 24, 2011

I've had this happen two or three times; I've never done anything even close to weightlifting. My mom gets maybe one or two a year (she has a tendency to get overexcited about things and yell a lot). Neither of us has ever had any problems (other than looking creepy) and it clears up in a day or two.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by phunniemee at 6:29 PM on February 24, 2011

I agree with the above posters that this doesn't sound like something to worry about.

It's a pretty minor injury, but I'd be a little concerned about the possibility he's holding his breath during the exertional phase of the lift, which is a bad habit. (See Valsalva maneuver.)

The valsalva maneuver is not a bad habit. It is the proper, safe procedure for any lift that involves spinal loading, like a squat, a deadlift, a press, or the olympic lifts. Exhaling during a concentric lift in which the spine is loaded decreases intra-abdominal pressure and poses a risk of spinal injury. Presumably the OP's CrossFit trainers have explained this to him; otherwise he should find a different gym.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 6:32 PM on February 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

I was at the doctor two days ago for exactly this (subconjunctival hemorrhage). I waited over 3 hours to see a doctor, who diagnosed this in about 5 seconds. Her advice was essentially this - if it's not affecting your vision, and doesn't hurt, you're ok. It could take weeks to go away. (I'm on day 5 and it the bloody area keeps changing). When I asked for drops that might clear it up, as visine wasn't doing the trick. she told me to keep wearing my hat and pull it down lower.

I do not like going to the doc, but after 3 days, I was a bit worried. The trip to the doctor was a huge waste of money, but now I know it's nothing to worry about.
posted by efalk at 7:02 PM on February 24, 2011

I burst a blood vessel in my eye once when I lost my temper. I looked like hell (pretty literally) for a few days as it gradually cleared up.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:04 PM on February 24, 2011

I get red spots on my face and bloodshot eyes when I do much inverted weightlifting (or puking)... doesn't cause much but an ugly appearance. I wouldn't worry unless he starts having vision issues.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:40 PM on February 24, 2011

You mean on the outside of the eye, right?

If it's inside on the retina then yes get it checked out. I burst a vessel inside my eye last year in similar circumstances, which sent me blind in one eye and needed an expensive operation to fix. As part of the treatment they tested me for possible Bad Things (I think heart disease, diabetes, leukemia) an injury like this can me a sign of.

They were fairly relaxed about it--it was a month before i got any blood tests--so I think the take-home lesson is that the risk of Bad Things is fairly small. Not finding anything they gave me a pat on the bum and told me to keep doing things I normally do (which includes exercises where I'm upside down. I still avoid the valsalva maneuver though.

I don't know if a bleed on the outside of the eye is as serious. I know people who did it to themselves after having too many bourbons and Coke, though that itself might disqualify them from being models of responsibility.
posted by fonetik at 3:07 AM on February 25, 2011

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