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Black eye facts
- A black eye often results from injury to the face or the head, and is caused when blood and other fluids collect in the space around the eye. Swelling and dark discoloration result in a "black eye."
- Most black eyes are relatively minor injuries. Many heal on their own in a few days, but they may signify a more serious injury.
- The most common cause of a black eye is a blow to the eye, nose, or forehead.
- Pain and swelling are the most common signs and symptoms of a black eye.
- Call a doctor if the injured individual has changes in vision, severe pain, or swelling that does not go away, the swelling around the eyes is not related to an injury, there are signs of infection (for example, fever, warmth, redness, pus-like drainage), if the person has behavioral changes, forgetfulness or lethargy, nausea, vomiting and/or dizziness, loss of vision (especially double vision), or an inability to move the eye itself (i.e., unable to look in different directions).
- Home remedies for black eye include rest and ice applied early after the injury help to decrease swelling and pain. Do not use raw meat on an eye injury, this creates potential for infection.
- Avoid a black eye with basic injury prevention. Wear the appropriate protective gear for any athletic or work-related activity.
- Complications include traumatic iritis and uveitis, hyphema, glaucoma, orbital floor fracture (blowout fracture), and retinal detachment.
Black eye introduction
A black eye often results from injury to the face or the head, and is caused when blood and other fluids collect in the space around the eye. Swelling and dark discoloration result in a "black eye" – sometimes called a "shiner."
Most black eyes are relatively minor injuries. Many heal on their own in a few days, but they may signify a more serious injury.
Despite the name, "black eye," the eye itself is not usually injured. The tissues around the eye may be significantly discolored and swollen without any injury to the eye itself, like a bruise (ecchymosis) around the eye.
The skin around the eye is very loose, with mostly fat underneath it and fluid accumulates easily in this area. The skin around the eye is one of the first places to swell when the facial area is injured. Depending on the location and type of injury, one or both eyes may be affected. Injuries to the eyebrow, nose, and forehead area often result in black eyes because gravity pulls the blood and inflammatory fluid into the soft tissues under and around the eyes.
As a black eye heals, the swelling around the eye decreases, and the bruise gradually fades away. The bruising will usually start out a very dark purple, and as it fades, it may change to light purple, then greenish, then yellow before disappearing.