A Tennessee man who reportedly cries tears of blood has left scientists baffled. Doctors say that testing the condition for a cure may worsen it.
Michael Spann, a 22-year-old Tennessee man suddenly started crying tears of blood several years ago. There were no earlier warning signs and blood started streaming from his eyes after he experienced a jarring pain in his head.
"I felt like I got hit in the head with a sledgehammer," he told the Tennessean.
Ever since, the bleeding has become a daily occurrence for Spann. However, of late it has been happening only once or twice a week. Though he's hampered by a lack of health insurance, doctors in Tennessee and at the Cleveland Clinic performed an exhaustive series of tests, but were unable to pinpoint a cause or recommend a treatment, according to news reports.
Though bleeding from the eyes is rare, it is a condition called haemolacria. Injuries to the eye can lead to haemolacria. The condition is also a symptom of a number of diseases and may also be indicative of a tumor in the lacrimal apparatus.
"I have a condition that I get these really bad headaches, and along with the headaches I bleed from my eyes," Spann said. "I also bleed out of my mouth, my nose. There's ... other people who have what I have in Tennessee alone, which is strange, but (none) of them have ever bled out of their ears. So I don't know if I have an advanced version of whatever those people have, or something else entirely.
In 2009, Calvino Inman of Rockville, Tenn., then 15 years old, reported a similar case and made headlines with his plea for doctors to help cure his tears of blood. Spann has tried to contact Inman but hasn't heard back, he said.
Dr. James "Chris" Fleming of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, who has studied patients with haemolacria, told The Tennessean that the condition is so difficult to diagnose because doing invasive procedures in the tear duct area is risky.
"There probably is a cause, but it is a small tear duct that is only a millimeter or two or three in diameter," Fleming said. "It's a tube. To get into that tube and examine that tube from one end to the other would cause scarring, and you could lose part of the tear duct. That's the dilemma that can cause problems - that we will leave someone with a permanent disability."
The condition has forced Spann to lead a reclusive life.
"Any job I get, I lose, because my eyes start bleeding and they can't keep me on," Spann said, via LiveScience. "Obviously, I can't be a waiter and work in any public thing because you are bleeding."