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Haemolacria: Mystery of Bloody Tears by Ayishath Mufeedha

Updated: Mar 13

A new chemical analysis of the 15th-century Romanian prince Vlad III, famously known as Vlad the Impaler, has spurred speculation surrounding a haunting trait: the shedding of tears resembling drops of blood. Rumors whisper of his supposed haemolacria, a condition where tears are tinged with blood. This has led to a romanticized notion that the historical figure who inspired the legend of Dracula shed such mysterious tears. However, delving into the scientific understanding of haemolacria suggests a different reality.


It’s important to acknowledge that no documented evidence validates the claim that ancient historical figures, including Vlad the Impaler, suffered from haemolacria. The rare condition wasn’t comprehensively understood or well-documented in ancient times. The notion of Dracula having this condition remains speculative, devoid of substantial confirmation in historical records. It’s crucial to consider that medical conditions, such as haemolacria, aren’t recognized or diagnosed similarly in ancient times as in modern medicine. Hence, unequivocally confirming whether ancient historical figures experienced this condition remains challenging.


However, the allure of Vlad the Impaler and the legend of Dracula has captivated literature for centuries. Authors, drawn by the macabre, have woven tales of haunting beauty around the notion of tears flowing crimson. This romanticized portrayal has perpetuated the mystique surrounding haemolacria, adding an air of both fascination and dread to an already mystifying historical figure. While haemolacria is a real medical condition, historical or medical evidence linking it to figures like Vlad the Impaler remains absent. The association between Dracula and blood likely stems from the fictional character's portrayal as a vampire in literature and popular culture. 


This physical condition manifests in tears partially composed of blood, varying from a slight red hue to appearing entirely blood-like. Its causes range from local factors like bacterial conjunctivitis, injuries, to indicative signs of a lacrimal apparatus tumor. Surprisingly, acute haemolacria has been observed in fertile women, possibly influenced by hormonal changes akin to endometriosis. Documented cases, such as Twinkle Dwivedi's unexplained bleeding from the eyes and body, add to its intrigue.


Treatment depends on the underlying cause, which is often benign, and may involve medication, antibiotic eye drops, tear drainage procedures or surgical interventions. However, any instance of blood in tears warrants immediate medical attention. 

Although not directly related to neuroscience, haemolacria can serve as a symptom for various disorders—hormonal changes, inflammation, blood disorders, or lacrimal apparatus tumors. One specific benign tumor, the pyogenic granuloma, presents as a raised, vascular growth that can cause bloody tears when it develops in specific eye areas. Treatments for pyogenic granulomas may involve surgical removal, laser therapy or medical interventions, but recurrence remains a possibility.


Understanding haemolacria remains a challenge. The condition's cause is still under research, with theories suggesting lesions or tumors on the nasolacrimal duct as potential triggers. Symptoms range from bloodshot eyes to a pink or red discharge, occasionally accompanied by eye discomfort.


Diagnosis involves a medical history, physical examinations, and possibly blood tests, imaging studies, or biopsies. Treatment options span medications, surgical interventions, laser therapy, and cryotherapy, tailored to address the underlying condition. 

The discovery and understanding of haemolacria have significantly influenced healthcare, aiding in diagnostics and treatment approaches. This comprehension emphasizes the urgency of seeking medical attention upon detecting blood in tears, potentially improving patient outcomes.


In conclusion, while haemolacria remains an enigmatic condition with romanticized tales surrounding it, ongoing research holds the promise of unraveling more about this rare yet intriguing aspect of human health. 


Disclaimer: This article does not provide any medical advice.

References 

• Brannon, H. L., MD. (2022, June 8). An overview of pyogenic granuloma. Verywell Health. https://www.verywellhealth.com/pyogenic-granuloma-1069207 

• Crying blood (Haemolacria) - Causes & treatment. (2023, November 29). Vision Center. https://www.visioncenter.org/conditions/crying-blood/ 

• Das, D., Chiranthan, M., Meel, R., & Neupane, S. (2020). Crying out blood: haemolacria in a young girl. Case Reports, 13(6), e236579. https://doi.org/10.1136/bcr-2020-236579 • Delgado, A. (2018, March 30). Pyogenic granuloma. Healthline. 

• Doctor probes mystery of girl who cries blood - TODAY Health. (n.d.). 

https://web.archive.org/web/20090918165406/http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/32797753 • Fowler, B. T. (2011, April 22). Haemolacria: a unique diagnostic and treatment approach. https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2350852 

• Granuloma annulare - Symptoms and causes - Mayo Clinic. (2023, January 20). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/granuloma-annulare/symptoms-causes/syc 20351319 

• Haemolacria (Cry blood): Causes & treatment | MyVision.org. (2022, July 1). MyVision.org. https://myvision.org/education/can-you-cry-blood/ 

• Hemolacria. (2023, January 1). PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30969596/ Home - BAD Patient Hub. (2023, September 28). BAD Patient Hub. https://cdn.bad.org.uk/uploads/2021/12/29164810/Pyogenic-granuloma-PIL-Oct-2022.pdf • National Geographic Channel - filming “The Girl Who Cries Blood.” (n.d.). https://web.archive.org/web/20100413230522/http://ngccommunity.nationalgeographic.com/ngcb logs/inside-ngc/2009/09/filming-the-girl-who-cries-blood.html 

News-Medical.net. (2019, February 27). Causes of pyogenic granuloma. https://www.news medical.net/health/Causes-of-Pyogenic-Granuloma.aspx 

• Pandey, M. (2022, August 6). Haemolacria: Causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention & more. Healthroid. https://www.healthroid.com/conditions/haemolacria/26349/ • Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.). Pyogenic granuloma. Cleveland Clinic. 

• Pyogenic granuloma | DermNet. (n.d.). https://dermnetnz.org/topics/pyogenic-granuloma • Tripathy, K. (2023, August 25). Hemolacria. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539774/ 

• What is a pyogenic granuloma? (2021, May 19). WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/skin problems-and-treatments/what-is-pyogenic-granuloma 

• Why am I crying blood? (2019, January 29). Healthline. 

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