A black eye

With review and feedback from CEENTA Ophthalmologist Joshua Rheinbolt, MD (Concord)

Did you get hit with a baseball? Did you get into a fight? Whatever happened, your eye is black. But what exactly happened to your eye, and how can you treat it?

What causes a black eye?

A black eye is when blood and other fluids collect in the space around the eyelids after an injury. The tissues from the forehead down to the upper cheeks are all connected. So, even if you have an injury on your forehead your eyelids can still swell. With gravity, the fluid usually always settles down around the eyes. Because the skin around the eyes is loose, it can swell much more than expected, and is one of the first places these fluids collect as the eye swells. Even rubbing your eyes can cause the lids to swell a lot. The bleeding and swelling can also affect the white area around your eyeball, making it look red.

What are the symptoms of a black eye?

Symptoms include bruising, swelling, and tenderness to the touch. If your eyeball is irritated, your vision will also be blurred.

More serious symptoms include double vision, vision loss, or a numb patch of skin around your lower eyelid and cheek. Other serious symptoms include an inability to move the eye, a severe or long-lasting headache, fainting, and bleeding from the ears or nose.

If you experience any of the more serious symptoms, seek medical attention immediately, as they are signs of a more concerning issue.

What are serious issues associated with a black eye?

Joshua Rheinbolt, MDA hit with enough force can cause the floor of your eye socket to break. It can also damage the nerve that gives sensation to your cheek area, CEENTA Ophthalmologist Joshua Rheinbolt, MD, said. Damage to your eye muscles can cause you to have trouble moving your eyes up or give you double vision. If you see bleeding on your eye, it usually isn’t dangerous. If the red spot on the white part of the eye is accompanied by a severe scratchy feeling, you might have a scratch on your cornea or the surface of your eye.

How can I treat a black eye?

If you aren’t experiencing serious issues, black eyes can usually be treated at home. Apply ice packs for 15-20 minutes at a time, once every hour on the first day. This will help ease pain and reduce swelling. Make sure to protect your eye from further damage, too. Also, do not apply steak or frozen foods to your eye, as this can lead to bacterial infection. If your eye feels irritated, use artificial tears 3-6 times a day.

If the black eye doesn’t improve after a few days, or you experience vision problems, make an appointment with an eye doctor.

Eye care at CEENTA

If you are concerned about a black eye, one of CEENTA’s ophthalmologists can examine you and make sure you get the care you need to preserve your vision. Don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment today.

This blog is for informational purposes only. For specific medical questions, please consult your doctor. New patients can make appointments online with our eye doctors in North and South Carolina. Current patients can also make appointments through myCEENTAchart with physicians they have already seen.


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