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Black Eye

Black Eye Overview

Patient Comments

A black eye is a relatively common result of injury to the face or the head, caused when blood and other fluids collect in the space around the eye; swelling and dark discoloration result-hence, the name "black eye."

Most black eyes are relatively minor injuries. Many heal in a few days, however, sometimes they 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. Think of it as a bruise around the eye.

Like a bruise, as a black eye heals, the swelling around the eye decreases, and the bruise gradually fades.

  • The skin around the eye is very loose, with mostly fat underneath, making it an ideal site for fluid to accumulate. The effects of gravity also help to swell this part of the face. This is why many people wake up with puffy eyes in the morning.
  • When there is an injury to the face, the skin around the eye is one of the first places to swell. Depending on the location and type of injury, one or both eyes may be affected.

Black Eye Causes

Patient Comments

The most common cause of a black eye is a blow to the eye, forehead, or nose. Depending on where the blow lands, one or both eyes may be affected.

  • A blow to the nose often causes both eyes to swell because the swelling from the nasal injury causes fluid to collect in the loose tissues of the eyelids.
  • Surgical procedures to the face, such as a facelift, jaw surgery, or nose surgery, can cause black eyes.
  • A certain type of head injury, called a basilar skull fracture, causes both eyes to swell and blacken. This condition is typically described as "raccoon's eyes."
  • Other causes of swelling around the eye include allergic reactions, insect bites, cellulitis (skin infection around the eye), angioedema (a hereditary condition causing swelling, usually around both eyes), and dental infections. However, these conditions do not make the skin turn black and blue around the eye.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/1/2013

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