Eye injuries: How to care for a black eye

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A black eye involves bruising of the soft tissues around the eye. It is also called as an eye contusion that typically occurs after an impact or trauma to the eye.


If an individual sustained a black eye, the indications are quite evident.

  • There is swelling and bruising around the affected eye
  • Difficulty in fully opening the eye
  • Impaired vision in serious cases

What are the causes?

There is swelling and bruising around the affected eye.

A black eye is a common injury in contact sports such as rugby and boxing. It is usually due to a direct impact or strike from any blunt object to the eye region. It is important to note that the skin that surrounds the eye is thin and it does not take much to cause damage to the underlying blood vessels that can result to bleeding and bruising.

In some cases, other non-sporting causes might include falls in which the head strikes the ground face first or falls onto objects such as furniture or assault involving direct punches to the face.

Management of a black eye

A black eye is usually managed using an ice pack that is applied to the affected area as soon as possible. The application of the pack is done for 10 minutes every hour during the initial 24-48 hours if needed. The frequency of the application can be reduced over time as the swelling settles. The individual should rest with the head raised to minimize bleeding in the area.

Pain medications or anti-inflammatory drugs can be prescribed by the doctor. In case the injury is serious, it is best to seek medical care to rule out any facial fractures. Mostly, a black eye can heal on its own within 1-2 weeks.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on a black eye is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage eye injuries including a black eye, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.

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