Black Eye

Black Eye

A black eye is a bruising of the soft tissues surrounding the eye. Also known as an eye contusion it usually happens following an impact or trauma to the eye.

Symptoms of a black eye

Symptoms of a black eye are often difficult not to notice! Bruising and swelling occur around the eye which will be painful and tender. It may not be possible to fully open the eye and vision could be impaired in more serious cases.


Black eyes are common in contact sports such as rugby, and especially boxing. They are caused by a direct impact of a blunt object, to the eye area. The skin around the eye is very thin and so it doesn't take much to damage the underlying blood vessels, resulting in bleeding and subsequent bruising.

Other, non-sporting causes may include falls where the head hits the ground face first or falls onto an object such as an item of furniture and fights or punches directly to the face.

Treatment for a black eye

Apply ice to the area as soon as possible for 10 minutes every hour for the first 24 to 48 hours if necessary. The can be reduced over time as swelling reduces to 2 or 3 times a day if needed. Resting with the head up will reduce bleeding in the area.

Painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed. If the injury is particularly severe you may need to seek medical advice to rule out any facial fractures. Usually, a black eye will heal on its own within a week or two.

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Sty (Hordeolum)

A stye which is sometimes called a hordeolum on the eye occurs when a gland on the eyelid becomes infected. This can occur on the inside or outside of the eyelid and looks like a spot or a pimple.

Facial Fractures

Facial fractures are breaks in any of the bones which form the face. These are the mandible or lower jaw, maxilla consisting of upper jaw and nose and the zygomatic bones or cheeks.

Corneal Laceration / Abrasion

A corneal laceration is a tear or cut of the cornea - the front lining of the eyeball. It is usually caused by something sharp flying into the eye or an impact from something sharp.


Hyphema is bleeding within the front chamber of the eye, between the iris and cornea. This is usually caused by a direct impact to the eye from a blunt object.