Black Eye Symptoms and Treatment

If you rely on television as your source of medical knowledge, then you might assume that all that is needed to treat a black eye is a good cold steak applied to the injury. In reality, there are multiple ways to care for a black eye, each depending on how severe the original blow to the face. Black eye is actually a bit of a misnomer, because it’s not the eye that turns black. Rather, the region across the bridge of the nose or around the eye socket itself that becomes blackened as the result of bruising.

Most black eyes are hardly severe. Lasting for merely days, a typical black eye heals on its own. Treating the black eye involves making a cold compress to lie across the injured site. Another quick remedy for the bruising and swelling that accompany a black eye is to apply cold pressure with a bag of frozen peas or a self-activating cold pack.

Black Eye Signs and Symptoms:

  • Pain and swelling around the eyelid and eye socket.
  • In some cases the eye may actually swell shut.
  • Discoloration around the eyelid and eye socket.
  • This may begin as simple redness and progress to black and blue bruising.
  • Blurring of the vision may also occur for a short time.
  • Mild headaches or neck pain may also occur after a blow to the head.

How to Treat a Black Eye:

  • A black eye is the result of bleeding underneath the skin around your eye. This is the result of trauma to the blood vessels around the eye. While a simple black eye is not necessarily serious, it can lead to serious complications.
  • The best thing you can do for a black eye is to ice it, take a pain killer like acetaminophen or ibuprofen and rest. You need to be very careful when icing your black eye. The area around your eye is very, very sensitive, and it’s already been traumatized. You’ll need to use a medical ice bag with a thick rubber casing or wrap the bag of ice in a cloth so you don’t use too cold of an ice treatment on your eye. You don’t want to freeze or damage the tissue around your eye.
  • Ice the black eye for 10 minutes at a time, giving it a 5-minute break between icing sessions. Be careful not to press hard or rub the tissue around your eye. Treat the area gently.
  • If you see blood in the whites of your eyes or if you develop a double black eye like a raccoon’s mask, go to a doctor immediately. These are signs of serious injury.

Home Treatment For a Black Eye:

Most black eyes will heal on their own within a few days, but you can help speed healing and reduce pain by taking the following actions:

  • Stop any activity and apply ice wrapped in a thin cloth (or a cold compress or a bag of frozen vegetables) to the area around the eye.
  • Avoid putting direct pressure on the eyeball itself.
  • Keep the ice on the area for 15 minutes at a time every waking hour for the first 24 hours.
  • Keep your head elevated while sleeping. Using two pillows may help reduce swelling throughout the night.
  • Pain medications may help reduce swelling and inflammation and decrease pain, but stay away from aspirin which may increase bleeding.
  • Continue to apply ice several times a day until the swelling subsides.
  • Continue to check for any any warning signs of a serious head injury for up to 48 hours.
  • Allow the eye to heal before returning to sports.


  • If you have double vision, or your sight has become fuzzy or unclear, this indicates a more serious injury needing medical assistance.
  • If you have suffered physical abuse or assault or were injured due to another party’s negligence, contact the police or a lawyer. Someone has committed a crime, and it is your responsibility to both aid the legal process and ensure your own safety.