Eye Contusion



A black eye is caused by being struck in the eye or nose.

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Playing sports such as basketball, football, hockey, and boxing
  • Certain jobs with a higher risk of eye injuries, such as manufacturing and construction
  • Being around violence
  • Taking part in fights
  • Not wearing a seat belt



The main symptom is a black and blue or purple mark around the eye. There may also be redness, swelling, and tenderness or pain. The skin may turn yellow when it begins to heal.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. The person will also be asked how the injury happened. The eye will be examined. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

More tests may be done to look for other problems from the injury, such as trouble seeing or a fracture.



Most black eyes heal on their own in about 2 weeks. The goal of treatment is to ease pain and swelling. Options are:

  • Applying ice on the eye after the injury
  • Applying a warm pack on the eye after swelling has gone down
  • Taking pain medicine, such as acetaminophen


To lower the risk of a black eye:

  • Wear eye protection when playing sports or doing work that may result in eye injury.
  • Avoid situations that may involve fighting.
  • Wear a seat belt when you are in a motor vehicle.

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.