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  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:



(Blood in the Eye)


Hyphema is when blood collects between the clear dome of the eye (cornea) and the colored part of the eye (iris). This can lead to a buildup in pressure that may harm the eye.

Normal Anatomy of the Eye.

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The bleeding is caused by a tear in the iris or nearby structures. The is often caused by trauma. It may also happen due to certain health problems. Sometimes the cause is not known.

Risk Factors

Hyphema caused by trauma is more common in males. Other things that may raise the risk of this problem from trauma are:

  • A motor vehicle accident
  • Playing sports that put the eyes at risk, such as racquetball
  • Using power tools without proper eye protection

Health problems that may raise the risk are:

  • Eye diseases, such as glaucoma or anterior uveitis
  • Eye infections
  • Complications from eye surgery
  • Blood disorders, such as leukemia, hemophilia, or thrombocytopenia
  • Medicines that make it harder for the blood to clot, such as aspirin or warfarin
  • Structural problems, such as the abnormal growth of blood vessels
  • Cancerous tumors (rare)


Blood will be visible in front of part or all of the colored part of the eye. Other problems may be:

  • Eyesight problems, such as blurry vision
  • Pain
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea or vomiting


The doctor will ask about symptoms, past health, and recent injuries. A physical will be done. It will focus on the eye and surrounding structures.

Blood tests may be done to test blood clotting time.

Images may be taken of the eye and nearby structures. This can be done with a CT scan.


The goal is to clear the blood from the eye. This may happen on its own or treatment may be needed. Options are:

  • Monitoring the eye for changes in pressure
  • Treating any underlying health problems that may be causing the hyphema
  • Medicines by mouth and eye drops—to ease discomfort and swelling

Some people may need surgery to:

  • Open clogged drainage channels
  • Remove excess fluid or blood


Hyphemia is usually caused by trauma. To lower the risk:

  • Wear eye protection when playing sports or doing work that may result in eye injury.
  • Avoid situations that may involve fighting.
  • Wear a seat belt in a motor vehicle.




  • Approach to eye trauma—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/approach-to-eye-trauma-emergency-management.
  • Eye injuries. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/eye_injury.html.
  • Hyphema—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/management/hyphema-emergency-management.
  • Romaniuk VM. Ocular trauma and other catastrophes. Emerg Med Clin North Am. 2013 May;31(2):399-411.
  • What is hyphema? American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: http://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/what-is-hyphema.


  • Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.