Hyphema is bleeding between the colored part of your eye (iris) and the cornea. The cornea is the outer clear tissue that covers your iris and pupil. Hyphema is usually caused by a blunt injury to the face or eye.
Because this is a serious injury, you will need to see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) right away. Your doctor will probably need to check your eye daily or weekly for several visits, then less often over the next several weeks.
You may have vision changes, mild pain, or no pain. You will need to wear an eye shield and rest at home as much as possible. If this treatment doesn't work, you may need surgery or a hospital stay.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Follow instructions to keep your eye from bleeding more, which could cause permanent vision loss.
- Wear an eye shield if directed. Follow any instructions about the position of your head while you are sleeping or resting.
- Consider avoiding air travel until your eye has healed. Changes in air pressure may cause pain and affect your eye.
- Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
- Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, take only acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.
- Do not take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medicines. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). They can increase bleeding.
- Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
- If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.
- Wash your hands before touching your eye.
- Do not rub your injured eye. Rubbing can make it worse.
- Use the prescribed eyedrops as directed. Be sure the dropper or bottle tip is clean.
- To put in eyedrops:
- Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down with one finger.
- Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
- Close your eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops move around.
- Do not touch the dropper tip to your eyelashes or any other surface.
- Do not use a contact lens in your hurt eye until your doctor says you can. Also, do not wear eye makeup until your eye heals.
- Do not drive if your doctor says not to.
- For the first 24 to 48 hours, limit reading and other tasks that require a lot of eye movement.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You suddenly cannot see, or your vision is a lot worse.
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have severe pain or the pain you have gets worse.
- You have more blood in your eye than before.
- You have any new symptoms, such as redness, swelling, or a change in vision.
- You have blurry vision that does not clear when you blink.
- You feel dizzy or lightheaded.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You do not get better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
Enter B828 in the search box to learn more about "Hyphema: Care Instructions".
Current as of: October 12, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine