A simple black eye consists of bruising caused by bleeding beneath the skin near the eye. The skin there is thin and delicate, so a bruise around the eye is more pronounced. The majority of black eyes are minor and fade away within a few days, but sometimes they can be indicative of a more serious injury to the eye or skull.
In most cases, black eyes don’t just sneak up – people know when they’re on the way to developing a shiner by being on the receiving end of a blunt force trauma. Sometimes the bruising is immediately noticeable, other times it develops over a day or two. Symptoms include:
A deep fracture in the skull can cause both eyes to turn black. A head injury is always a medical emergency and should be attended to immediately. Symptoms may include:
Some people with chronic sinusitis can get darkening underneath eyes from a severe allergic reaction. Seek treatment for the cause rather than the symptom.
A simple ‘shiner’ can be treated by gently applying an ice pack to the area around the eye. This can help reduce swelling and internal bleeding by constricting blood vessels. Painkillers may also help to ease the discomfort – but don’t take ibroprufen, as it can cause an increase in bleeding. Putting a ‘steak’ over the eye (as Sylvester Stallone did in Rocky) is not a treatment, it’s simply a waste of a good steak.
Although accidents happen, there are certain situations where precautions should be taken. Wear protective eye gear when working around the home or playing athletics. If a profession involves physical work (such as building or landscaping), there is more chance of suffering a bump or a fall, so there’s a need to always take extra care to avoid eye damage. Accidents can happen, but prevention is ultimately the best course of action.
IMPORTANT: If you are concerned about your eyes and require an urgent consultation, DO NOT use this form. Please call one of our clinics during office hours or contact your nearest emergency department.