First Aid: How To Manage A Black Eye

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A black eye can be seen after an injury to the face. This injury can be due to a punch in the face or being hit in the eye with a cricket ball. It is caused due to the accumulation of blood in the tissues that surround the eye.

While in most cases a black eye is not serious, it can sometimes indicate a fracture of the skull (the appearance of 2 black eyes is called ‘raccoon sign’ as the eyes appear like a raccoon). Careful examination may also reveal blood within the eye – a condition called hyphema. Patients can have trouble with their vision.

Here is how you manage a black eye –

Step #1 – Apply light pressure

Using a wet damp cloth or ice wrapped in a handkerchief, place light pressure on area that surrounds the eye. This must be done as soon as possible after injury to minimise bleeding and swelling.

Step # 2 – Examine the eyeball

If the eyeball has blood within it or appears bright red (where it should normally appear white), then visit an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) as soon as possible. This must also be done if the patient notices a change in their vision (such as double vision or blurred vision). See the table below.

Step #3 – Take painkillers

If the individual is experiencing pain, simple painkillers such as paracetamol can help. Avoid Brufen and Aspirin as they can make bleeding worse.

  • There is severe pain around the eyeball.
  • If you are experiencing blurred vision or double vision.
  • There is blood clearly visible in the eyeball.
  • The eyelids are torn or injured.
  • The eyeball is abnormal i.e. protruded forward or a new squint is seen.


Apply ice for 2 – 3 days after initial injury. After that, simple application of warm compresses can help improve blood supply and promote healing.

It can take up to 2 weeks for complete healing of a black eye. If you have any questions or concerns, always call your doctor.

Recommended purchase

This book by St Johns Ambulance, UK is a comprehensive review for the general public on how to manage simple problems at home. It is definitely worth having on your bookshelf for quick reference. We strongly recommend this.

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