Black eye

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Black eye
Classification and external resources
Black eye 2.jpg
ICD-10 S00.1
ICD-9 921.0

A black eye, periorbital hematoma, or a shiner, is bruising around the eye commonly due to an injury to the face rather than eye injury. The name is given due to the color of bruising. The so-called black eye is caused by bleeding beneath the skin and around the eye. Sometimes, a black eye indicates a more extensive injury, even a skull fracture, particularly if the area around both eyes is bruised, or if there has been a prior head injury.

Although most black eye injuries are not serious, bleeding within the eye, called a hyphema, is serious and can reduce vision and damage the cornea. In some cases, abnormally high pressure inside the eyeball (ocular hypertension) also can result.

Presentation and prognosis[edit]

Progression of periorbital hematoma over ten days: the blood is gradually absorbed, but the iron-laden pigments in the blood remain in the tissue leaving a discoloration that persists for longer.

Despite the name, the eye itself is not affected. Blunt force or trauma to the eye socket results in burst capillaries and subsequent haemorrhaging (hematoma).[1] The fatty tissue along with the lack of muscle around the eye socket allows a potential space for blood accumulation. As this blood is reabsorbed, various pigments are released similar to a bruise lending itself to the extreme outward appearance.[1]

The dramatic appearance (discoloration purple black and blue and swelling) does not necessarily indicate a serious injury, and most black eyes resolve within a week.


Unless there is actual trauma to the eye itself (see below), extensive medical attention is generally not needed.[1]

Applying an ice pack will keep down swelling and reduce internal bleeding by constricting the capillaries. Additionally, analgesic drugs (painkillers) can be administered to relieve pain.[1]

Associated conditions[edit]

Eye injury and head trauma may also coincide with a black eye. Some common signs of a more serious injury may include:

  • Double vision
  • Loss of sight and or fuzzy vision could occur
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to move the eye or large swelling around the eye
  • Blood or clear fluid from the nose or the ears
  • Blood on the surface of the eye itself or cuts on the eye itself
  • Persistent headache or migraine


  1. ^ a b c d "Black Eye". NHS Choices. NHS. 18 March 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2012. 

External links[edit]