What is an Eye Bruise?

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  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 15 March 2020
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An eye bruise, often called a black eye, is an area of bruising around the eye. Often, this bruise is accompanied by swelling and pain. An eye bruise is caused when the blood vessels beneath the skin around the eye break and blood seeps into the surrounding tissue. That blood can make the area under the skin look dark and discolored. A bruise near the eye usually resolves on its own, but there are some tips a person can use in order to help reduce the pain and swelling.

Many times, an eye bruise will result from some sort of trauma, such as an object hitting the eye or a person bumping into something. That trauma may break the blood vessels beneath the skin without breaking the skin, allowing blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. The discoloration that results from the bruise is one reason this kind of bruise is also called a black eye. Once the body starts to repair the damage and heal itself, the bruised area will start to change color. Often, a person will see the bruise change from black and blue to green to yellow before it disappears.


If a person has a black eye, one of the first procedures he can follow to help reduce the size of the bruise, as well as the pain and swelling, is to put a cold compress on it. Cold causes blood vessels to constrict and so reduces the amount of blood that flows to the area. The compress may need to be administered for the first 24 hours and after that, a warm compress may need to be administered. It is important that a person not put too much pressure on the eye when they use a compress. Some professionals recommend that a person tape the compress to their forehead in order to prevent exerting pressure on the eye.

If the bruise is painful, a person may benefit from taking pain reliever. Acetaminophen is the recommended pain reliever in this case because aspirin is an anticoagulant, a substance that prevents blood from clotting. If a person takes aspirin, the blood may not clot well and the bruise may spread. A person should also refrain from blowing his nose, especially if the bruise was caused by a severe blow. If the eye socket is fractured, blowing the nose can cause air to seep out of the sinuses and into the area, resulting in more swelling.

Though eye bruises are not usually serious, there are times when a person should contact a doctor. For instance, it may be wise to consult a doctor if a person has trouble seeing through the eye. A doctor should also be seen if there are spots in a person’s vision, light sensitivity, or any other vision problems. Bruises should heal in about a week. If the bruise has not resolved in that time, it may also be time to see a doctor.


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Post 3

@clintflint - It's a delicate situation though. Most black eyes are going to be caused by a punch, because you rarely can get a bruised eye socket in any other way. But random people aren't going to want to accuse anyone of that, particularly in public.

I guess that's one reason why most women would go to so much trouble to hide it if they had one.

Post 2

@croydon - I've only ever had one once as well and what I noticed the most was how judgmental people were about it. I managed to bang my head against an open cupboard door and that's all, but people kept giving me strange looks in public as if the only way you get a black eye is from a fight.

I was particularly annoyed with the way they treated any male friends I happened to be hanging out with, as though they were an abusive boyfriend, but without actually asking about my eye. I mean, I get that sometimes people do have abusive partners, but if that's what you suspect then don't tiptoe around the problem and act like you're judging them. That only makes it worse.

Post 1

I've only ever had a black eye once, when I tried to break up a fight and was clobbered on my brow-bone. It actually didn't hurt as much as I expected it to, but I guess in the heat of the moment you just don't really feel the pain.

The thing I found most surprising though was that my black eye seemed to migrate over time, like the bruise was slipping down my eye. It started as a swollen red spot on my eyebrow and ended up like a dark bruise on the underside of my eye.

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