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Hyphema is blood in the front area of the eye.


Hyphema is usually caused by trauma to the eye. Other causes of bleeding in the front chamber of the eye include:

  • Blood vessel abnormality
  • Cancer of the eye
  • Severe inflammation of the iris
Signs and tests
Support Groups

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome depends upon the amount of injury to the eye. Patients with sickle cell disease are more likely to have eye complications and must be monitored more carefully.

Severe vision loss can occur.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if you notice blood in the front of the eye or you have a traumatic eye injury. You will need prompt diagnosis and treatment by an ophthalmologist.


In some mild cases, no treatment is needed. The blood is absorbed in a few days.

The health care provider may recommend bed rest, eye patching, and sedation to reduce the likelihood of recurrent bleeding.

Eye drops to decrease the inflammation or lower the intraocular pressure may be used if needed.

The ophthalmologist may need to remove the blood, especially if the intraocular pressure is severely increased or the blood is slow to absorb again. You may need to stay in a hospital.


Many eye injuries can be prevented by wearing safety goggles or other protective eye wear. Always wear eye protection while playing sports such as racquetball, or contact sports such as basketball.


Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006: chap 70.

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Review Date: 10/6/2008
Reviewed By: Paul B. Griggs, MD, Department of Ophthalmology, Virigina Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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