Black Eye

  • Medical Author:
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Medical Editor: David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

View the Eye Diseases and Conditions Slideshow Pictures

What are the complications of black eye?

Black eye in itself usually is a minor condition that resolves on its own. Severe injuries, especially forceful blunt trauma to the eye area may result in complications.

Traumatic uveitis and iritis(iritis is a type of uveitis) results from blunt trauma to the eye. A black eye may be the first sign of this condition. Iritis generally affects only one eye. Signs and symptoms of uveitis (and iritis) may include:

  • reddened eye (especially around the iris, the colored part of the eyeball);
  • pain that increases with exposure to bright light;
  • a small or irregularly shaped pupil;
  • floating spots before the eyes; or
  • blurred vision.

Any of these symptoms should be brought to the attention of a physician.

Hyphema is an accumulation of blood in the front (anterior) chamber of the eye following injury and can cause damage to the interior tissues of the eye. The amount of blood may be too small to see with the naked eye, or the entire front of the eye may fill with blood.

Glaucoma may also result from blunt trauma to the eye, and can occur immediately or years later. The force of the trauma can cause bleeding inside the eye which leads to an increase in eye pressure, and damages the optic nerve. Delayed onset glaucoma (angle recession glaucoma) can occur as scar tissue from the injury builds in the eye.

Orbital floor fracture (blowout fracture) may also occur as a result of the forceful blunt trauma to the eye. The force of the blow pushes the eyeball further into the eye socket, fracturing the very thin walls of bone that make up the eye socket. This can lead to pinching (entrapment) of the optic nerve and the muscles that move the eye. Loss of vision or double vision can result and must be treated emergently.

Retinal detachment can result in permanent vision loss. Trauma to the eye can lift or pull the retina from its normal position, lining the back of the eyeball. Symptoms include partial or total loss of vision or flashing lights or spots in the field of vision and must be treated immediately.

Picture of the anatomy of the eye
Picture of the anatomy of the eye

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/1/2015

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