Some things are just so horrifying you can’t believe they’re real. Case in point: A 52-year-old man in Italy went to the emergency room because bloody tears streamed from both eyes.
It may seem unbelievable, but crying bloody tears is a completely legitimate, although rare, medical condition called haemolacria. Warning, the photo is so gross, we’re not even including it. But the case report and image are published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
As his doctors explain, the unidentified patient reported spontaneously bleeding about two hours before he visited the hospital. The bleeding lasted several minutes, stopped, then started again. The patient did not have any other medical conditions that could explain the bleeding, like eye or nasal trauma.
However, the patient’s doctors did find hemangiomas, noncancerous tumors caused by having too many blood vessels, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Untreated, these tumors can case lazy eye, bad vision, glaucoma, or even vision loss. And yes, as this case shows, the tumors can cause spontaneous bleeding from the eyes, according to Columbia University.
Doctors prescribed eye drops, and the patient reported no additional bloody tears during a one-year follow up.
Haemolacria is extremely rare, and there are no estimates for how many people suffer from it.
However, some people experience the bleeding regularly. As CBS News reported in 2013, Tennessee resident Michael Spann said the condition impacted his ability to hold a job.
“Any job I get I lose because my eyes start bleeding and they can’t keep me on,” Spann explained. “Obviously, I can’t be a waiter and work in any public thing because you are bleeding.”
The bleeding began when Spann was 22 years old and initially occurred daily but has dwindled to a few instances a week with time, CBS reported.
There is no standard treatment, and as one doctor noted in a review of four case studies, treatment doesn’t seem to be necessarily to stop the bleeding.
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