Don't put raw steak on your eye to get rid of black eye

You’ve seen cartoons and sitcoms, so you know if you have a black eye you should put a steak on it to help it heal, right? Actually, that’s a myth, and in fact it could be bad for you.

Why do people think steak is good for black eyes?

The idea behind putting a steak on your eye is, because the meat has been sitting in a refrigerator or freezer, it’s nice and cold and will help the swelling and bruising go down by constricting blood vessels and decreasing inflammation. However, Putting raw meat on an injury is just not safe. The bacteria on it – such as E. coli – could potentially cause a serious infection.

Okay, how about a bag of frozen vegetables?

Frozen foods of any kind are not ideal. There’s too great a risk of contamination from other foods or surfaces in your kitchen.

Then how do I get rid of black eye?

You should definitely use something frozen, but instead of food, use an ice pack or ice cubes. Wrap it in a clean towel and apply it to your eye as soon as possible. Hold it there, but don’t press on the eye. Remove it after 10 minutes, then replace it for another 10 minutes every hour or so.

After a few days of cold treatment, start putting warm compresses on your eye to get blood flowing and stimulate the healing process. That should help get rid of black eye without having to dive into the freezer.

So I don’t need to go to the doctor?

That depends. If you have significant swelling, blurred or double vision, severe eye pain, light sensitivity, bleeding, or bruising around both eyes, a doctor’s visit is a good idea. But when in doubt, it’s always best to see a doctor.

Adrian Elfersy, MD

“Steak is best on the grill, not on your face,” CEENTA Ophthalmologist Adrian Elfersy, MD, said. “Most minor trauma – i.e. bumps and bruises – will respond well to the RICE method – rest, ice, compression and elevation. However, eye trauma can be a serious thing and you should always see an ophthalmologist when in doubt. They’re your eyes. There’s no need to play hero.”

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your physician. Dr. Elfersy practices in our Concord and Salisbury offices. To make an appointment with him or any of CEENTA’s eye doctors, call 704-295-3000. You can also schedule an appointment online or through myCEENTAchart.


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