What is Hyphaema ? What are its symptoms and its causes ?

Hyphaema occurs when there is blood in the front part of the eye, between the cornea (the clear part at the front of the eye) and the iris (the coloured part of the eye).

Causes of hyphaema

Hyphaema can be caused by:

  • blunt trauma to the eye
  • injury to the eye caused by a squash ball or champagne cork
  • a punch to the eye
  • eye surgery (occasionally).

Sometimes – though rarely – hyphaema can also occur spontaneously.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms can include:

  • a layer of settled blood in the front part of the eye
  • the pupil of the affected eye is often irregular and poorly reactive.

Your doctor will check your eyes for:

  • an increase in intraocular pressure (eye pressure)
  • pain
  • discolouration of your cornea
  • any re-bleeds
  • if the level of hyphaema is settling.

Treatment of hyphaema

  • Rest in bed with your head elevated at a 30 to 40 degree angle.
  • Steroid eye drops may be prescribed to prevent inflammation.
  • Avoid physical exercise such as running and lifting heavy weights to prevent a rebleed.
  • A dilating drop may be prescribed to restrict the movement of the iris.

What is the goal of the treatment?

  • To allow natural settling and gradual absorption of the blood.
  • To prevent staining by the blood on the under surface of the cornea.
  • To prevent re-bleeding.
  • To prevent secondary increase in the pressure of the eye – this occurs when the drainage passages are blocked off by the blood clot.

Where to get help

  • See your eye specialist (ophthalmologist).
  • See your doctor.
  • Visit a GP after hours.
  • Ring healthdirect Australia on 1800 022 222.

Remember

  • Hyphaema occurs when there is blood between the cornea (the clear part at the front of the eye) and the iris (the coloured part of the eye).
  • It can be caused by eye injuries and may also occur after eye surgery. In rare instances it can happen spontaneously.

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