Blood in the eye (Hyphema)

What is a hyphema?
Hyphema refers to blood in the anterior chamber of the eye. The anterior chamber is the front section of the eye's interior where fluid flows in and out, providing nourishment to the eye and surrounding tissues. A hyphema is usually caused by a trauma to the eye but can also occur spontaneously in children with other medical problems. Blood is seen in the eyeball. This is a medical emergency and immediate medical care is necessary.

What are the symptoms of a hyphema?
Symptoms of hyphema include blood visible in the eye, usually following some type of trauma to the eye.

The symptoms of hyphema may resemble other eye conditions or medical problems. Always consult your child's physician for a diagnosis.

How is a hyphema diagnosed?
Diagnosis is usually made after a complete medical history and physical examination of your child's eye.

Treatment for a hyphema:
Specific treatment for a hyphema will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health, and medical history.
  • Extent of the injury.
  • Your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies.
  • Expectations for the course of the injury.
  • Your opinion or preference.

Most children with a hyphema will be treated in an emergency room. An ophthalmologist (physician who specializes in comprehensive eye care) may be involved in the care of the child. Treatment may include:

  • Eye drops.
  • A patch over the affected eye.
  • Bed rest.
  • No reading due to the movements of the eye.
  • Head of the child's bed should be elevated about 40 degrees to help the body. Reabsorb the blood in the eye.
  • Daily checks of the pressure inside the eye.

What are the complications from a hyphema?
The following are some of the complications that may occur from a hyphema:

  • The injury may bleed again.
  • Glaucoma - an increase in the pressure inside of the eye. If found, glaucoma must be closely monitored. Increased pressure may cause loss of vision or blindness if untreated.
  • Loss of vision.
  • Damage to different structures in the eye.
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