Black Eye (cont.)

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How is a black eye diagnosed?

FFor most black eyes, a doctor will perform a physical exam and will ask about the injury and look for any associated injuries or symptoms.

The physician will shine a light into the patient's eyes to look at the pupils and inside the eye itself for any injury, and to check for foreign bodies or abrasions on the eye. They will test the motion of the patient's eye (following the doctor's finger with his/her eyes), and examine the facial bones around the eye.

Depending on what is found, the doctor may perform additional testing. An X-ray or a CT scan may be performed if the doctor suspects a fracture to the bones of the face or around the eye (the orbit) or that something is inside the eye.

If there are any special concerns, the doctor may refer the patient to a specialist, such as an ophthalmologist (a medical doctor who specializes in eye care and surgery), for follow-up care.

What is the treatment for a black eye?

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Home remedies

Home remedies for black eye include rest and ice applied early after the injury help to decrease swelling and pain.

Ice helps decrease swelling by constricting blood vessels, by decreasing fluid accumulation, and by cooling and numbing the area.

  • Apply ice for 20 minutes every hour, for the first 24 hours (a package of frozen vegetables such as peas or corn can be used as it will conform to the shape of the face better than ice cubes).
  • To avoid potential cold injury to the site, wrap the ice or frozen object in a cloth or use a commercial ice pack.
  • Do not use raw meat on a black eye as putting potentially bacteria-laden meat on a mucous membrane or an open skin injury can be dangerous.

Medical care

FFor simple, uncomplicated black eyes, the treatment prescribed by health care professionals is similar to home treatment:

  • ice;
  • pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) (avoid taking aspirin (unless prescribed by your doctor or cardiologist for your heart] because this may increase bleeding);
  • rest; and
  • protection of the injured area.

Avoid possibly injurious activities until after the eye has healed.

For more complicated injuries, the patient may be referred to an appropriate specialist; such as an ophthalmologist, who can treat the patient's injuries to the eye itself, or an otorhinolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat [ENT]), or an oral/maxillofacial surgeon for fractures to the face.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/21/2013

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