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CML & Imatinib - frequent burst of blood vessel in the eye


Hi All,

I’ve been diagnosed since 2017 with CML and on daily dose of imatinib 400mg.

no major notable side effects except recent month post Pfizer vaccine, I seem to have very frequent burst of blood vessel in my eye (left and right) and throbbing feeling when it seems to happen…

anyone had any same experience to share and how to deal with it?

went to the eye specialist but was only prescribed eye lubricant…and was told this might be due to CML…


Thanks in advance!~

JacqJohn, four years is a long time to be on the full dosage of any TKI.    Eye bleeds and edema are well known side-effects of Imatinib.  Gradual dosage reduction helps in reducing, if not eliminating, side-effects.  Please share your CML test results.  Thanks in advance.


I have a lot of experience with eye bleeds and rentinal issues.

If you had a very high white blood count at dx you are a possible candidate for rentinopathy. You can find my story if you search for my posts from 2017

Ps: but more likely the eye bleeds are caused by imatanib and buzz is right that if this is the case dose reduction should help. It is worthwhile ruling out rentinal issues though.

Hi Buzz,

thanks for the response. My latest PCR is at 0.09% at April 2021.

My previous PCR results were:

October 2020: 0.13%
April 2020: 0.23%
October 2019: 0.32%
April 2019: 0.43%
October 2018: 1.17%

I was a slow responder and doctor did not reduce my dosage as I had yet to reach MMR


I do have potential pre- glaucoma and slight high eye pressure and dry eye…although my blood pressure is between 95-110/ 65-80 range…

But last 3 years this bloody eye probably happen only once a year or never happen before… lately after taking my Pfizer jab, frequency increased… it’s like one week the left eye burst, then next week it recovered, the right eye burst… when the right eye healed, the left eye burst… it’s like both eyes have been alternating each other 😖


Burst meaning you had a large internal bleed which is characterized by a sudden large number of "floaters" in your eye following by a grey clouding of your vision?

Or you mean something else?

Glaucoma isnt a rentinal issues, so that (in theory) should not be much impacted by imatanib. As with any (non cml) person you need to keep an eye on it. (Pun unfortunate)

Hi Eva,


im having subconjunctival hemorrhage -  a red spot on your eye caused by a broken blood vessel.

everytime it happens there’s throbbing pain..☚ī¸

Ahh ok, very different to my experience.
I think imatanib is only known for bleeds into the eyeball (which are not visible) but I'm not sure.

JacqJohn, in an effort to eliminate your eye issue, it would be worth trying to have your onc reduce your dosage down to 300mg.  You are far enough below CCyR, 1.0, that it shouldn't be a problem.  


Hi Buzz,

thanks for the feedback. I’ll talk to my hematologist and see… thank you again !~

When I was on 400 mg imatinib I used to have one or two eye bleeds per year. When I reduced to 200mg the bleeds stopped, and other side effects (cramps, bastric issues) were much reduced.