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Hyphema in Children: Care Instructions


Hyphema is bleeding between the coloured part of the eye (iris) and the cornea. The cornea is the outer clear tissue that covers the iris and pupil. Hyphema is often caused by a blunt injury to the face or eye.

Because this is a serious injury, your child will need to see an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) right away. This doctor will likely check your child's eye each day or week for several visits. Then your child will see the doctor less often over the next several weeks.

Your child may have vision changes. There may be mild pain or no pain. Your child will need to wear an eye shield. Have your child rest at home as much as possible. If this treatment doesn't work, your child may need surgery or a hospital stay.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow instructions to keep your child's eye from bleeding more, which could cause permanent vision loss.
  • Be sure your child wears an eye shield if directed. Follow any instructions about the position of your child's head while your child sleeps or rests.
  • Consider avoiding air travel until your child's eye has healed. Changes in air pressure may cause pain and affect the eye.
  • Give your child medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with a medicine.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, give only acetaminophen, such as Tylenol.
    • Do not give your child aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medicines. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). They can increase bleeding.
    • Do not give your child 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 the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Do not let your child rub the injured eye. Rubbing can make it worse.
  • Use the prescribed eyedrops as directed. Be sure the dropper or bottle tip is clean.
  • Wash your hands before touching your child's eye.
  • To put in eyedrops:
    • Tilt your child's head back, and pull the lower eyelid down with one finger.
    • Drop or squirt the medicine inside the lower lid.
    • Close your child's eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops move around.
    • Do not touch the dropper tip to the eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Do not let your child use a contact lens in the hurt eye until your doctor says it's okay. Also, do not let your child wear eye makeup until the eye heals.
  • 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 your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child suddenly can't see, or your child's vision is a lot worse.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has severe pain or the pain gets worse.
  • Your child has more blood in the eye than before.
  • Your child has any new symptoms, such as redness, swelling, or a change in vision.
  • Your child has blurry vision that does not clear when blinking.
  • Your child feels dizzy or light-headed.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.