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Blood in the Eye (Hyphema) in Children

What is hyphema or blood in the eye in children?

Hyphema is an accumulation of blood in the front (anterior) chamber of the eye. This is located between the clear front part of the eye (cornea) and the colored part of the eye (iris). This is where fluid flows in and out of the eye. The fluid gives nourishment to the eye and tissues around it.

What causes blood in the eye in a child?

Blood in the eye is often caused by an eye injury. It can also happen without a known cause in children who don’t have other health issues.

Which children are at risk for blood in the eye?

Boys are 3 to 5 times more likely than girls to get blood in the eye. That's because they have eye injuries more often than girls.

What are the symptoms of blood in the eye in a child?

Symptoms include visible blood in the eye. This often happens after an eye injury.

The symptoms of blood in the eye include eye pain, light sensitivity, and blurry vision. Have your child see their healthcare provider or get medical care right away for a diagnosis.

How is blood in the eye diagnosed in a child?

Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s health history. They'll also give your child an eye exam.

How is blood in the eye treated in a child?

Blood in the eye is an emergency. If you see blood in your child’s eye, get medical help right away.

Treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

Most children with blood in the eye will be treated in an emergency room. An eye care provider (ophthalmologist) may care for your child. Treatment may include:

  • Eye drops

  • A patch over the affected eye

  • Bed rest

  • No reading. This is to rest the eye.

  • Raising the head of your child’s bed by about 30 degrees. This can help the blood to settle in the lower part of the front (anterior) chamber. This can help restore better vision more quickly.

  • Checking the pressure inside your child’s eye each day

  • Surgery in severe cases when medical treatment isn't effective and pressure is increasing in the eye

What are possible complications from blood in the eye in a child?

The following problems may be caused by blood in the eye:

  • The bleeding may happen again

  • Glaucoma. This is an increase in the pressure inside of the eye. Children with glaucoma should be closely watched by their healthcare providers. This condition can cause vision loss or blindness if left untreated.

  • Long-term (permanent) vision loss

  • Damage to different structures in the eye

Key points about blood in the eye in children

  • Hyphema is an accumulation of blood in the front part of the eye between the cornea and iris.

  • Blood in the eye is often caused by an eye injury. It can also happen without a known cause.

  • Blood in the eye is an emergency. Your child will likely be treated in the emergency room.

  • Treatment may include eye drops, an eye patch, bed rest, and raising the head of your child's bed.

  • If left untreated, blood in the eye can cause permanent vision loss.

Next steps

Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your child’s healthcare provider:

  • Know the reason for the visit and what you want to happen.

  • Before your visit, write down questions you want answered.

  • At the visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis and any new medicines, treatments, or tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you for your child.

  • Know why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed and how it will help your child. Also know what the side effects are and when they should be reported.

  • Ask if your child’s condition can be treated in other ways.

  • Know why a test or procedure is advised and what the results could mean.

  • Know what to expect if your child does not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.

  • If your child has a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that visit.

  • Know how you can contact your child’s provider after office hours. This is important if your child becomes ill and you have questions or need advice.

Online Medical Reviewer: Chris Haupert MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Tara Novick BSN MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 4/1/2022
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