Skip to Content

Black Eye


What is a black eye?

A black eye is a bruise of your eye or the area around it. A black eye is caused by an injury to your eye, such as a direct blow from a sports injury.

What are the signs and symptoms of a black eye?

You may have pain, redness, and swelling. Over time, the color of the bruise will change from blackish-blue to brown, green, or yellow. The bruise may spread down your cheek. It may take up to 3 weeks for the bruise to fade.

How is a black eye diagnosed?

Your caregiver will examine you and ask about your injury. He will be able to diagnose your black eye based on your symptoms.

How is a black eye treated?

  • Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain and fever. Acetaminophen is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Apply ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your eye for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
  • Apply heat after the first 24 hours: Heat helps decrease swelling. Apply heat on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour for as many days as directed.
  • Do not lie flat: Keep your head and back elevated when you rest, such as in a recliner. Place extra pillows under your head and neck when you sleep in bed. This will help decrease swelling. Ask your caregiver how many days to do this.
  • Limit activity: Do not exercise or lift heavy objects for 48 hours. This could cause more bleeding under the skin.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • Your nose is bleeding.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You are dizzy or feel faint.
  • You are confused.
  • You cannot move or walk the way you usually do.
  • You have changes in your vision, such as double vision.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.