A black eye is a common injury to the head or face that occurs once blood and other fluids accumulate in the space surrounding the eye. It results to evident swelling and dark discoloration which is why it is called as a black eye.
Most cases of black eye are considered as minor injuries. Many can heal in just a span of a few days but some can indicate a serious injury. Even though the injury is called as a black eye, the eye is not involved or injured. The tissues that surround the eye might be evidently discolored and swollen without any injury to the eye. It is simply a bruise around the eye. Just like a bruise, a black eye can heal where the swelling subsides and the bruise gradually fades.
Always remember that when an individual sustained an injury to the face, the skin that surrounds the eye is one of the initial areas to swell. Depending on the type of injury and location, one or both eyes can be affected.
What are the causes?
The usual reason why a black eye occurs is a direct strike to the eye, forehead or nose. Depending on the location of the blow, one or two eyes can be affected. There are other possible causes of black eye that you should be familiar with.
- Surgical procedures on the face such as jaw surgery, facelift or nose surgery
- Direct blow to the nose can cause both eyes to swell due to the swelling from the nasal injury which causes fluid to gather in the loose tissues of the eyelids.
- A type of head injury called a basilar skull fracture which causes both eyes to inflame and blacken which is described as raccoon’s eyes.
- Allergy reactions, cellulitis, insect bites, angioedema and dental infections. Just remember though that these conditions will not cause discoloration around the eye.
What are the symptoms?
Swelling, pain and bruising are the characteristic indications of a black eye. Primarily, the discoloration and swelling are mild. The eye will appear slightly reddened and then steadily progress into a darker shade.
After some time, the skin surrounding the eye turns deep violet, yellow, green or black in color. The swelling will also increase as the discoloration progresses. After a few days, the affected area becomes lighter in color while the swelling subsides.
In some cases, there is blurred vision or difficulty opening the eye due to the swelling. Additionally, headache can also occur since the cause of the black eye might be an injury to the head.
Indications of a serious injury
- Loss of vision
- Double vision
- Inability to move the affected eye
- Loss of consciousness
- Persistent headache
- Blood on the eye surface
- Blood or clear fluid from the ear or nose
How to manage a black eye at home
Always remember that adequate rest and the application of ice are vital after the injury was sustained to help reduce the pain and swelling.
The application of ice can help reduce the swelling by constricting the blood vessels, reducing the accumulation of fluid and numbing or cooling the affected area. You have to apply an ice pack for 20 minutes every hour while the individual is awake for the initial 24 hours. Do not apply the ice pack directly over the injury though. Make sure that the ice pack is wrapped in a clean towel or cloth. An alternative is a bag of frozen vegetables that is wrapped in a cloth. To recognize, manage and help individuals with black eye and other similar injuries, register for a first aid and CPR course with a credible provider near you.
The injured area must be protected from further injury. The individual must avoid any sports or physical activity until the eye is completely healed. The practice of placing a steak or piece of raw meat on the black eye must be avoided. Placing a piece of meat that might be loaded with bacteria will only worsen the injury especially if there is an open cut on the skin.