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Medical Mystery: The Teen Who Cries Blood

Teen cries blood
Photo: Splash News

“The teen that cries blood” refers to the case of a 15-year old Calvino Inman, a boy from Rockwood, Tennesee whose unique, one-of-its-kind medical eye related case was discovered in September, 2009. The case is still widely considered as a great diagnostic challenge to the world researchers, medical scientists, physicians and ophthalmologists. 

What actually happened?
According to Inman he was all right then, all of a sudden, his eyes started to bleed at least three times a day and each bleeding session could last from a few minutes to up to an hour. There was no known history of accident/trauma or any other brain or eye related disorder. It is important to note that those blood-tears came from both of his eyes, simultaneously.

How did the teen feel?
Most of the times, Inman felt it like tears coming up in his eyes and his eyes watering. At other times, he also had some intense burning sensations as the tears came out. There was no sharp pain which is usually associated with bleeding from other parts of the body.

Attempts made to rule out the diagnosis
With respect to medical science, the condition of Inman was unique and one of its kind. The teen visited several doctors including specialty doctors such as ENT (ear, nose & throat), ophthalmologists and general physicians. He also underwent several diagnostic tests including Computed Tomography (C.A.T.) scans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Ultrasound tests. However, none of the doctors or physicians was able to actually identify or even name the specific condition or find out the cause that caused his eyes to bleed. 

Was there any treatment?
This particular case was also unique in a sense that when the teen and his mother rushed to the emergency room for immediate treatment, all the doctors did not know how to stop the fresh, copious amount of blood that was running from both of his eyes.  The doctors believed that there were no recommended emergency measures to stop the bleeding at once and it just had to run its course. 

Difference from other conditions that cause bleeding from the eyes
It is very important to distinguish this unique case from other possible causes of bleeding from eyes. 

It should be noted that bleeding from eyes is almost always a result of some pre-existing condition (e.g. hemorrhage, stroke, liver disease, drug reaction, leukemia etc.,) or some known cause such as blunt trauma on the eye or acute injury inside the brain. Also, in most cases, bleeding from the eyes is unilateral i.e. blood oozes out from the affected eye usually and not from both eyes at the same time.

Therefore, with none of such conditions or causes present, Inman’s case was not just another, simple case of eye bleeding. For the same reason, it was called as “Teen that cries blood” case.

Possible medical theories behind the “bleeding eyes”
Some of the doctors theorized that the case could be haemolacria which is some sort of bloody tear condition. The condition is so rare that it reportedly affects only one in a million people and is found only in those people who have experienced extreme trauma or who have recently had a serious head injury. However, none of such histories was found in this teen’s case and he was found to have no obvious cause of the same. 

However, to date, no definite link has been proved and established between the two conditions. With the rapid advancements in medical eye sciences, more evidence-based research needs to be done to rule out the real cause that caused this teen to cry blood.

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