It is important to apply first-aid treatment right away.
- Seek emergency medical attention right away if there is any concern that the eye has been injured.
- Immediately apply an ice pack for 15-20 minutes at a time to reduce swelling and minimize pain. Do not press on the eye itself. Repeat every 1 to 2 hours for the first 48 hours.
- If there is still tenderness after 48 hours, apply a warm compress every 1-2 hours.
- Take acetaminophen for pain. Do not take aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen because they can cause or increase bleeding.
Many eye injuries are minor and will heal within 2 weeks with basic first aid. There is always the risk of more serious consequences, so you should consider seeing an eye doctor right away, even if you have no symptoms. This should be done urgently if a blow to the eye causes blood to appear in your eye, loss or change in vision, double vision, inability to move the eye normally, or severe pain in your eyeball. Depending on the extent of your injury, your doctor may provide further medical treatment. For instance:
- If the skin around your eye is cut, you may need stitches.
- If there was any damage to the eye itself, you may need antibiotic eye drops to prevent infection.
- Your doctor may prescribe eye drops to minimize swelling.
- If there is suspicion of damage to the bones, x-rays or other imaging may be performed
To help reduce your chance of an eye contusion:
- Wear protective eye covering such as safety goggles whenever the eye is exposed to potential injury at work or play. The best eye coverings fit snug against the skin so that no foreign objects can get underneath them and into the eye.
- Avoid situations that may involve fighting.
Special Note on Domestic Violence
Many cases of black eyes are the result of domestic violence. If you suffer from any form of domestic violence, verbal or physical, talk to your doctor or call a domestic violence hotline right away. Do not feel alone or threatened. There is help available.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Black Eye; Blunt Eye Injury; Ecchymosis)
Eye Smart—American Academy of Opthalmology http://www.eyesmart.org
National Domestic Violence Hotline1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) http://www.ndvh.org
Canadian Ophthalmological Society http://www.eyesite.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca
Eye injuries. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid%5Fsafe/emergencies/eye%5Finjury.html. Updated September 2014. Accessed May 6, 2016.
What is a black eye? Eye Smart—American Academy of Ophthalmology website. Available at: http://www.geteyesmart.org/eyesmart/diseases/black-eye.cfm. Updated March 1, 2015. Accessed May 6, 2016.