What is a hyphema?
A hyphema is when blood collects within the front of the eye. This happens between the cornea (the clear covering of the eye) and the iris (the colored part of the eye). The pupil and iris may be partially or fully covered with blood. If you have a hyphema your vision might be partly or totally blocked in that eye.
A hyphema normally happens when an injury causes a tear to the iris or pupil of the eye. Sometimes people confuse a broken blood vessel in the front of the eye for a hyphema. A broken blood vessel in the eye is not abnormal, harmless condition called subconjunctival hemorrhage. A subconjunctival hemorrhage does not cause pain. A hyphema, though, is known to be painful. A hyphema must be treated properly or it can cause permanent vision issues.
Hyphema symptoms include:
- bleeding in the front of the eye being sensitive to light
- pain in the eye
- blurry, clouded or blocked vision
What Causes Hyphema?
Hyphema is normally caused by injuries to the eye from accidents or playing sports.
Hyphema can include:
- abnormal blood vessels appear on the surface of the iris
- eye infections caused by a herpes virus
- blood clotting problems
- problems with artificial lenses placed in the eye post cataract surgery
- very rarely, cancers of the eye
Because most hyphemas happen because of sports injuries, it is important to wear sports glasses or goggles. Sports injuries, especially with tiny balls like racquetballs, can cause serious eye problems. Besides hyphema, these injuries can cause cataracts, retinal detachments and glaucoma and lead to permanent blindness. If you hurt your eye, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
An ophthalmologists will examine your eye completely to diagnose a hyphema. He or she be caused by other, less common things, will check:
- how well you can see
- the pressure in your eye
- the inside of your eye
In some cases, the ophthalmologist may order a CT scan. This scan observes the condition of the bones that form your eye sockets and other parts of your face.
Based on what the ophthalmologist finds, he or she may ask you to:
wear a special shield over your eye to guard it
rest in bed and don’t engage in physical activity for bit
lift the head of your bed to help your eye drain
see your ophthalmologist frequently so he or she can check your healing and eye pressure
Your ophthalmologist will possibly tell you not to use aspirin because it can lead to more bleeding. In some cases, your ophthalmologist might tell you go to the hospital so that your eye can be cared for and checked often. If the hyphema makes your eye pressure rise too high, it can turn into glaucoma or damage your cornea. If this happens, you may need surgery to get rid of the excess blood, or eye drops for treatment.
A hyphema is when blood compiles inside the front of the eye. Hyphema is most commonly caused by an injury to the eye. Sometimes, though, it can be caused by other problems. Hyphema signs and symptoms include bleeding in the front of the eye, eye pain, sensitivity to light, and hazy, clouded or blocked vision. It is important to wear sports glasses or goggles when playing sports to prevent eye injury. If you hurt your eye, or see blood on your iris without an injury, see an ophthalmologist right away. Treatment may include home or eye drops, and sometimes hospitalization but that is a rare possibility.
If you have any questions about your eyes or your sight, speak with your ophthalmologist.
He or she is committed to protecting your vision.