What Is an Eye Bruise?

Swelling and pain often accompanies an eye bruise.
A cold compress, applied to the eye within 24 hours, will help to reduce swelling and discoloration.
Anatomy of the human eye.
Article Details
  • Written By: M.R. Anglin
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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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. An eye bruise 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 an eye 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.

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If a person has an eye bruise, 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 eye 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 eye 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. Eye 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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