Eye contusion

A black eye or eye contusion involves damaged or swollen soft tissues surrounding the eye. This is usually due to an injury to the head or face which leads to the build-up of fluid around the eye.

Remember that there is no injury to the eye itself, but the area surrounding the eye is swollen and bruised. The skin surrounding the eye is highly sensitive. Due to this, the blood vessels beneath are easily damaged. Generally, most injuries are minor and resolve in a few days.

What are the causes?

  • Eye injuries or trauma especially in contact sports such as boxing or soccer
  • Direct strike on the face by a blunt object
  • Falls
  • An eye contusion can develop after facial procedures such as a face lift, jaw surgery or nasal surgery
  • Basilar skull fracture
    Eye contusion

    Pain, swelling and evident discoloration around the eye.

  • Other medical conditions such as cellulitis, dental infections and angioedema


  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Pain, swelling and evident discoloration around the eye
  • Unable to open the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache if the injury is due to any form of head injury

The symptoms that require immediate medical attention include inability to move the eye, vision loss, diplopia, blood on the eye surface, intense headache, nausea, vomiting, behavioral changes, dizziness, eye deformity and drainage from the eyes, nose or ears.

Management for eye contusion

In most minor cases of eye contusion, the injury typically heals in a few days without requiring treatment.

  • An ice pack should be applied right away and repeated every 2 hours.
  • The individual should lie down with the head raised on a pillow or cushion to minimize the bleeding.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen or ibuprofen can be used to reduce the pain and swelling.

In case a facial fracture is suspected, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.

Disclaimer / More Information

The information posted on this page on an eye contusion is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage eye injuries including a contusion, register for first aid training at one of our training centers located throughout Canada. The training centers are in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, Kelowna, Surrey, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.



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