What causes bloody eyes? Where can I get nutrition advice?

When red doesn't signal danger

A co-worker is getting frequent bloodstains in part of her left eye. They appear unexpectedly and last for about 10 days. Her GP and a specialist told her not to worry as long as there is no eye pain or discomfort. I have doubts, and I wonder if this is masking more serious problems. She is in her late fifties and overweight. Her blood pressure is normal. She does not smoke and hardly drinks alcohol. She likes good coffee but only has one a day. She is not too keen on exercising. She wears glasses and has several pairs.

Your colleague is getting subconjunctival haemorrhages. A small amount of blood is leaking from a tiny blood vessel just beneath the surface of the white part of the eye, the conjunctiva. Subjunctival haemorrhages appear suddenly and the contrast between the red blood and the eye-white is striking. In the great majority of cases there is no identifiable underlying cause – it is just something that happens. It is more common as people get older.

If her blood pressure is normal and she has had a test to check that her blood has enough platelets (tiny cells that stop spontaneous bleeding), she really needn't worry. Very minor injuries to the eye can cause a subconjunctival haemorrhage. They can even appear after rubbing the eye. The blood is gradually reabsorbed, usually in 10 days or so.

In search of nutritional values

I want to find an alternative therapist to help me with nutritional issues, but I don't know how to find a good one. Should I see a dietician, a nutritionist or a nutritional therapist? I need to know that they are properly qualified.

Finding a good therapist is all the more difficult in alternative and complementary therapy, because most are not legally regulated. Anyone can call themselves a nutritionist or a nutritional therapist, even if they have no training. Dieticians, however, are regulated by the Health Professions Council (HPC). In the UK, it is illegal for someone to describe themselves as a dietician unless they are registered with the HPC. Several organisations are trying to introduce regulation, but until this is sorted out, you have to depend on personal recommendations or your own enquiries into a person's experience and qualifications. The Nutrition Society maintains a voluntary register of qualified nutritionists; see their website at www.nutritionsociety.org, and the HPC website at www.hpc-uk.org.

Please send your questions and suggestions to A Question of Health, 'The Independent', Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; fax 020-7005 2182; or email health@independent.co.uk. Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions

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