Black Eye

A black eye is the result of an injury that causes bruising around the eye.  The bruising is typically caused by bleeding beneath the skin surrounding the eye. Sometimes, a black eye can indicate a more serious injury to the eye itself, and even a possible skull fracture.

Although most black eye injuries aren’t serious, bleeding within the eye is considered to be very serious. Bleeding in the eye area can reduce vision and damage the cornea. Call 911 immediately if the person displays symptoms of:

  • Bleeding from the eyeball
  • Blurred vision or loss of vision entirely
  • Confusion, dizziness, or loss of consciousness or
  • Two black eyes, which can indicate a serious injury to the head.

First Aid for minor black eye injuries can be performed by:

  • Applying a cold pack, ice, or a cold washcloth to the injury at least twice a day for the first 48 hours.  If using ice, use only one or two cubes at a time to avoid putting undesired pressure on the eye area.
  • Do not place a steak over the eye area.  Placing a steak over the eye is a common myth for black eye treatment.  However, a frozen bag of vegetables, such as peas, can be used as a lightweight alternative to applying a cold pack or ice.
  • If needed, use only acetaminophen or Tylenol for pain.  Do not give aspirin or ibuprofen when treating pain because these medications can potentially increase the risk of bleeding.
  • After 48 hours, switch from cold therapy to heat therapy by applying a warm compress for further treatment of the eye injury.

As with any injury, if the eye area does not improve, worsens, or begins to impair vision, seek medical attention right away.

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