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Black Eye

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jun 6, 2023.

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 healthcare provider will examine your eye and ask about your injury. He or she will check your vision and see how well you can move your wounded eye. He or she may shine a bright light into your eye to check your pupil and the inside of your eye.

How is a black eye treated?

  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It 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 your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Apply ice on your eye for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • After the first 24 hours, apply heat on your eye for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and swelling.
  • 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.
  • Limit activity. Do not exercise or lift heavy objects for 48 hours. This could cause more bleeding under the skin.

Call 911 for any of the following:

  • You cannot move or walk the way you usually do.
  • You are confused.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have a severe headache.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You are dizzy or feel faint.
  • You have changes in your vision, such as double vision or vision loss.
  • You cannot move your eye.
  • You have blood or fluid draining from your eyes or nose.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • There is blood on the surface of your eyeball.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

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 healthcare providers 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.

© Copyright Merative 2023 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.