Many individuals experience a black eye at some point in their lifetime, but the common cause of black eye is a direct blow on the face especially in the area of the eye due to blood and fluids that accumulates in the spaces around the eye and there is puffiness and bruising of the affected area. A black eye can also be caused by face lift procedures, infections and allergic reactions due to bites and injuries to the nose.
Most cases of black eyes are minor injuries and heal in a few days but sometimes they can be a more serious injury. The skin around the eye area is very loose and mostly fat under it as well as prone to accumulation of fluid and the effects of gravity makes this part of the face swollen. When there is injury on the face, the skin around the eye is the first to swell depending on the location and type of injury and it can affect one or both eyes.
- A direct blow to the eye, forehead or nose
- A direct injury to the nose can sometimes cause both eyes to swell
- Surgical procedures such as facelift, jaw surgery and nose surgery
- A type of head injury called basilar skull fracture can cause both eyes to swell and blacken or also called as “raccoon’s eyes”.
- Insect bite reactions can cause swelling of the eye
- Other conditions such as angioedema can also cause swelling around both the eyes as well as dental infections.
Swelling, pain and bruising of the affected area, but swelling and discoloration can be minimal. The eye can be slightly reddened and then eventually the skin surrounding the eye turns deep violet, green, yellow or black in appearance. The swelling becomes severe as the discoloration continues. In a few days, the affected area becomes lighter and the swelling is minimized. Sometimes, the affected person has a blurry vision or difficulty in opening the eye due to the swelling. A headache can occur if the cause of the black eye is an injury to the head.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected area immediately after the injury to help lessen the swelling and help in constricting the blood vessel and prevent any internal bleeding. Cold helps promote fast healing of the area. If an ice pack is not available, frozen vegetables or anything that can be wrapped with a towel in the freezer. Wrap a few pieces of ice or frozen vegetables in a towel and hold it over the affected eye for at least 10-20 minutes several times every day for the first 2 days after the injury.
- Apply a warm compress on the affected eye to help with proper circulation of the blood and also help the skin and eye heal faster. Dip a facecloth in warm water, wring out excess water and then place the cloth on the affected eye socket until the cloth becomes cool. Repeat this process several times every day.
- Include vitamin C rich foods in the diet such as oranges, guavas, peppers, sweet potatoes, lime and mangoes or vitamin C supplements.
- Take the prescribed pain medications such as acetaminophen to help minimize the pain.