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Black Eye

A "black eye" is really a bruise around your eye. It usually results from an injury to your face or head rather than an injury to the eye itself. Pooled blood and fluids in the skin around the eye cause swelling and a black-and-blue color. A black eye should return to normal in a week or two.

To reduce pain and swelling from a black eye:

While your eye is healing, call your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Apply ice packs every 20 minutes you're awake for the first 24 hours.

  • Use warm compresses every 20 minutes for the next 24 hours.

When to Go to the Emergency Room (ER)

In many cases, a black eye is a minor injury and can be treated with cold packs and pain medication. But seek medical care right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • A change or loss of vision

  • An eye that won't look in more than one direction

  • Blood inside your eye, or bleeding from your nose or ears

  • Fluid leaking from your eye

What to Expect in the ER

  • Your injury will be inspected.

  • Your vision, the way your eye moves, and the bones around your eye will be checked.

  • You may have a fluorescein stain test. This uses dye and a special light to check for eye damage.

  • An x-ray or other tests may be done.

  • Depending on the results of your exam and tests, you may be referred to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist).

Follow-up

While your eye is healing, call your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Swelling that doesn't improve after a few days

  • Increased or severe pain

  • Changes in your vision

  • Warmth, redness, or pus near the bruise

Date Last Reviewed:

Date Last Modified: 2002-09-27T00:00:00-06:00

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We see patients from the downtown Seattle, Belltown and South Lake Union areas of Seattle in King County, WA.

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Dr. Feiten was born and raised in Wisconsin, attending the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh for her undergraduate studies. She graduated from Pacific University with her Doctor of Optometry degree in 1987. She practiced in Kentucky for seven years, receiving the Young OD of the Year Award in 1994.

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Seattle, WA 98101
206.623.1758
Fax: 206.623.1759
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