First Aid for a Black eye

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A physical trauma that affects the region around the eye, causing internal bleeding beneath the skin in that region allowing it to appear dark is a black eye. A black eye can be an indication of a severe injury such as skull fracture or a serious head trauma but most of the time the injury is mild and recovers within a few days.

Sometimes, a head trauma may not only cause a black eye but an eye injury such as a corneal abrasion which refers to bleeding inside the eye. Serious eye damage can lead to impaired vision and even loss of eyesight. An extremely high pressure inside the eye called glaucoma may also result due to an eye injury; therefore it is advisable that you seek medical help immediately.

Signs and symptoms

  • Darkening of the region around the eye
  • Swelling in the affected region
    cold compress
    A cold compress is a very effective way of reducing the bruising of a black eye.
  • Pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches

If any of the following severe symptoms occur, call a medical expert immediately:

  • Dual vision
  • Prolonged headache
  • Bleeding on the surface of the eyes
  • Inability to move the affected eye(s)
  • Oozing of fluid from the eyes, nose or ears
  • Loss of vision
  • Unconsciousness


In case of a mild injury, follow these steps:

  • Apply cold packs on the affected region around the eye. Do not apply pressure directly on the eyeball. You may also use a towel wrapped in ice for this purpose. Applying pressure with ice packs can alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Use this procedure for 1-2 days.
  • To reduce pain, you may take acetaminophen; however, it is advisable that you do not take blood thinning agents such as aspirin.
  • Inspect your eyeball and look for signs of severe injury. If you can see blood on the white parts of the eye or eyes, visit an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) immediately.
  • If you experience vision problems such as impaired vision, blurred vision or double vision seek medical help immediately.
  • If you notice bleeding in the eyeball or nose, call medical help promptly.
  • For a severe head trauma or brain injury, you will have to visit a neurologist and for face disfigurement, you should visit a plastic surgeon.


  • Be safe and stay away from fist fights.
  • Wear a helmet while driving motor vehicles.
  • Make sure your house is safe and potentially harmful objects are kept away from children’s reach.
  • Do not let children ride bicycles or use skateboards until they are old enough and fully protected.
  • Make sure you protect your eyes in case of an accident.

Learn to Provide Care for Head Injuries

To learn more about eye and other head injuries take St Mark James first aid training. Classes are available in Vancouver, Victoria, Surrey, Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer, Winnipeg, Halifax, Toronto and Ottawa. Visit the locations page for more information or to register.

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