What Should You Do If Your Eye Is Bleeding?

In this condition, which your doctor will call hyphema, blood collects in the front part of your eye. This can be painful. You may feel pressure. You may be sensitive to light, and you may have blurry, cloudy, or blocked vision. If it happens to you, see a doctor right away.

There won’t be a red glare when you look at things, but you may see blood in your eye when you look in the mirror. It could block part or all of the iris, the colored part of your eye. If it’s a small hyphema, you may not see blood. But with a total hyphema, the blood can pool and block your vision.

Workplace injuries, falls, and eye infections can cause it. You can also get it from diseases like eye cancer, diabetes, and sickle cell anemia. But while it seems scary, it’s easy to treat.

See your eye doctor as soon as you get an eye injury or notice blood in your eye. She’ll do a thorough exam to test your vision and the pressure inside your eye. She’ll also look for other damage, like cataracts. She’ll tell you to:

  • Rest. The goal here is to stop the bleeding. You’ll keep your head raised slightly so the blood settles. The doctor will want to see you a few times to make sure your eye is healing.
  • Protect the eye. You may have to wear a shield or patch. You may also have to limit physical activity so you don’t injure the eye more.
  • Ease the pain. She may give you eyedrops to reduce swelling and relieve pressure. You can also take acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain. Don’t take aspirin. It could cause your eye to bleed more.

In severe cases, your doctor may suggest surgery to remove the extra blood.

While you’re healing, it’s a good idea to avoid reading, driving, or other activities that make you move your eyes a lot.

If hyphema is left untreated, it could cause pressure to build up in your eye. This can lead to long-term vision problems. Call your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Your vision changes in any way.
  • Your eye begins to hurt.
  • You can’t see the colored part of your eye.
  • You feel sick to your stomach or throw up.

If you’ve had a hyphema, you’re more likely to get glaucoma, especially if you have sickle cell disease. It’s important to schedule yearly eye exams to watch for changes.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on November 17, 2015



American Academy of Ophthalmology: “What Causes Hyphema?”

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus: “Hyphema.”

University of Minnesota Medical Center: “Hyphema.”

Baylor Scott & White Health: “Hyphema.”

Merck Manual: “Blunt Injuries to the Eye.”

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