What’s Wrong With Lesley Stahl’s Eye? Why Is It Red?

lesley stahl

CBS '60 Minutes' correspondent Lesley Stahl.

Two days after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol building, 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl sat down with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss what had happened and how lawmakers planned to move forward. The interview aired on January 10 on CBS.

Viewers may have been distracted by Stahl’s eye. Her left eye was bright red in the corner, which prompted concern from some social media users.

Heavy reached out to the 60 Minutes communications director on January 8, after CBS aired a clip of the interview on the CBS Evening News, to ask what happened and whether Stahl had broken a blood vessel. We did not hear back before the episode’s debut.

Here’s what you need to know:

The Mayo Clinic Says Violent Coughing, Sneezing & Blunt Trauma Can Cause a Blood Vessel to Rupture

It is most likely that Stahl popped a blood vessel in her eye and it will clear up on its own within a couple of weeks. According to the Mayo Clinic, a “subconjunctival hemorrhage occurs when a tiny blood vessel breaks just underneath the clear surface of your eye (conjunctiva). The conjunctiva can’t absorb blood very quickly, so the blood gets trapped.” The result is that the white part of your eye turns bright red. Most patients do not even notice anything has happened until looking in a mirror.

The Mayo Clinic says a broken blood vessel does not cause any lasting damage to the eye and does not typically impact the patient’s vision. The medical center notes that almost anything can trigger a rupture, such as:

  • Violent coughing
  • Powerful sneezing
  • Straining
  • Vomiting
  • Roughly rubbing your eye
  • Trauma, such as a foreign object injuring your eye

According to VSP Vision Care, the white part of the eye “slowly absorbs the blood over the course of one to two weeks.” The health insurance company compared a popped blood vessel to a skin bruise that heals on its own. But VSP adds that “although eye drops cannot help repair the broken blood vessels, they can soothe the eyes of any irritation or sense of fullness in the eye.”

While a popped blood vessel is generally not something to get alarmed about, the Cleveland Clinic does recommend seeing a doctor if it happens multiple times.

It’s unlikely that Stahl was suffering from pink eye. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, patients with pink eye typically suffer symptoms such as “itching, swelling, discharge and burning.” Stahl likely would not have been able to do the interview had she been feeling symptoms like that.

Viewers Were Quick to Express Concern on Twitter, With Some Asking Whether She Had Pink Eye

As the interview with Speaker Pelosi began on CBS, viewers quickly took to social media to speculate about Stahl’s eye. Many Twitter users asked why her eye was bloody and whether she had pink eye. Several tagged the 60 Minutes Twitter account. Others expressed concern about whether she was ok.

Stahl Was Hospitalized With COVID-19 Early in the Pandemic

Lesley Stahl shares her personal battle with coronavirus"After two weeks at home in bed, weak, fighting pneumonia, and really scared, I went to the hospital. I found an overworked, nearly overwhelmed staff." cbsn.ws/2KSmn8y Subscribe to the 60 Minutes Channel HERE: bit.ly/1S7CLRu Watch Full Episodes of 60 Minutes HERE: cbsn.ws/1Qkjo1F Get more 60 Minutes from 60 Minutes: Overtime HERE: cbsn.ws/1KG3sdr Relive past episodes…2020-05-03T22:30:01Z

Stahl, who turned 79 in December, is not one to share many details about her personal life. She has not posted on her Facebook page or her Twitter account since 2017.

But Stahl did open up about her battle with the coronavirus. She revealed on 60 Minutes on May 3, 2020, that her case had been severe enough to require hospitalization. Stahl was among several CBS News staffers to contract the virus and she noted that at least one 60 Minutes staffer had no symptoms. She explained her experience on the broadcast:

After two weeks at home in bed, weak, fighting pneumonia, and really scared, I went to the hospital. I found an overworked, nearly overwhelmed staff. Every one of them kind, sympathetic, gentle and caring from the moment I arrived until the moment days later when I was wheeled out through a gauntlet of cheering medical workers. In the face of so much death, they celebrate their triumphs.

This valiant army in scrubs and masks was not just doing a job. They were fulfilling a mission, answering the call. Thanks to them, like so many other patients, I am well now. Tonight, we all owe them our gratitude, our admiration- and in some cases, our lives.

While Stahl does not often discuss her personal health, her husband’s health issues have been discussed on her network. Her husband of more than 40 years, magazine writer Aaron Latham, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease more than a decade ago. Stahl interviewed Latham for a story on CBS Sunday Morning in November 2015 about a boxing program that was designed to help Parkinson’s patients battle the symptoms.

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