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Black Eye

By

Ann P. Murchison

, MD, MPH, Wills Eye Emergency Department, Wills Eye Hospital

Last full review/revision Sep 2020| Content last modified Sep 2020

In the first 24 hours after a blunt eye injury, blood may leak into the skin of the eyelid and surrounding areas, causing swelling and a bruise (contusion), commonly called a black eye.

(See also Overview of Eye Injuries.)

The blood usually drains toward the bottom of the eyelid after a day or two, resulting in swelling and discoloration just below the lower eyelid. Black eyes themselves usually have no effect on vision, although other eye injuries that accompany them may be serious.

Black eyes resolve without treatment after a few days or weeks. During the first 24 to 48 hours, ice packs may help reduce swelling and ease the pain of a black eye.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen) or acetaminophen can be given if the pain is significant. However, people who have bleeding within the eye should probably use acetaminophen and not use NSAIDs, which may worsen bleeding.

Drugs Mentioned In This Article

Generic Name Select Brand Names
acetaminophen TYLENOL
ibuprofen ADVIL, MOTRIN IB
aspirin No US brand name

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