What Is Hyphema?

A hyphema is when blood collects inside the front of the eye. This happens between the cornea (the clear covering of the eye) and the iris (the colored part of the eye). The blood may cover part or all of the iris and the pupil (the round, dark circle in the middle of your eye). If you have a hyphema, your vision might be partly or totally blocked in that eye.

A hyphema usually happens when an injury causes a tear of the iris or pupil of the eye. Sometimes people mistake a broken blood vessel in the front of the eye for a hyphema. A broken blood vessel in the eye is a common, harmless condition called subconjunctival hemorrhage. A subconjunctival hemorrhage does not hurt. A hyphema, though, is usually painful. A hyphema must be treated properly or it can cause permanent vision problems.