Black eye: First aid
Medically reviewed on March 13, 2018.
A black eye is caused by bleeding under the skin around the eye. Most injuries that cause a black eye aren't serious. But a black eye may indicate a more serious injury, such as an internal injury to the eye or a fracture of the thin bones around the eye. You may have a skull fracture if you have double vision, bruising around both eyes (raccoon eyes) or bleeding from the nose.
To take care of a black eye:
- Apply a cold compress soon after the injury. Using gentle pressure, place a cold pack or a cloth filled with ice to the area around your eye. Take care not to press on the eye itself. Apply cold as soon as possible after the injury to reduce swelling. Repeat several times a day for a day or two.
- Look for blood. If you see it in the white or colored parts of the eye, seek urgent care by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).
- Seek medical care immediately if you have vision problems (double vision, blurring), severe pain, bruising around both eyes, or bleeding in an eye or from the nose.
- Apply warm-hot compresses. This may be helpful after a few days when the swelling has stabilized. Repeat several times a day for a day or two.