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.