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Black eye: First aid

August 16, 2022
FirstAid

How to recognize and provide first aid for a black eye.

A black eye is bruising caused by bleeding in the tiny blood vessels in the skin surrounding the eye. Most injuries that cause a black eye aren't serious. But a black eye could be a sign of a more serious injury, such as an internal injury to the eye or a fracture of the thin bones around the eye. You may have a skull fracture if you have double vision, bruising around both eyes (raccoon eyes) or bleeding from the nose.

  • Apply a cold compress soon after the injury. Using gentle pressure, place a cold pack, a cloth filled with ice — or even a bag of frozen vegetables — to the area around your eye. Take care not to press on the eye itself. Apply cold as soon as possible after the injury to reduce swelling. Repeat several times a day for a day or two.
  • Look for blood. If you see blood in the white or colored parts of the eye, seek urgent care by an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).
  • Seek medical care right away if you have vision problems, such as double vision or blurring. Also seek care right away if you have severe pain, bruising around both eyes, or bleeding in an eye or from the nose.
  • Apply warm or hot compresses. This may be helpful after a few days when the swelling has gone down. Repeat several times a day for a day or two.