Symptoms and Signs of Black Eye

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 11/12/2021

Doctor's Notes on Black Eye

A black eye refers to the visible bruising of the eyelid and the area around the eye. A black eye is typically caused by trauma to the eye or face. A common cause is a blow to the nose, eye, or forehead. Other causes can include surgery on the face or a type of skull fracture known as a basilar skull fracture.

Signs and symptoms associated with a black eye can include:

The bruising is usually dark purple at the outset after the injury. Certain symptoms may be indicative of a more serious injury, such as:

  • severe pain,
  • vision changes,
  • changes in mental status, 
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness,
  • forgetfulness,
  • behavioral changes, or
  • inability to move the eye.

What Is the Treatment for a Black Eye?

Applying ice packs for 10 minutes every 1-2 hours immediately after the injury can help reduce swelling and bleeding. Otherwise, there is no treatment that can improve the appearance of a black eye, which improves gradually over time. It’s important to seek medical attention right away if you have:

  • fever,
  • severe pain in the eye,
  • bleeding around both eyes (raccoon eyes),
  • changes in vision,
  • bleeding from the eye, or 
  • problems breathing through the nose.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.