Causes of a black eye

The most common cause of a black eye is a blow to the eye or nose. This can happen if children bump into something or are hit by something.

This can damage the sensitive tissues around the eye and lead to bleeding under the skin, which causes swelling and bruising.

Symptoms of a black eye

The symptoms of a black eye include pain, swelling and bruising. The skin starts off red and then progresses to purple, yellow, green or black.

When to see your doctor about a black eye

Seek medical advice immediately if your child:

  • complains of blurred or double vision
  • has trouble seeing
  • can’t move the eye itself – that is, she can’t look in different directions
  • has redness or swelling in the white of her eyes
  • has both eyes blackened, especially if there has been any blow to her head
  • has cuts around the eye or you think something might have penetrated her eyeball.

Also seek medical advice if:

  • your child’s eye looks strange to you
  • your child has bleeding or clear discharge from the nose or ears
  • your child is drowsy or behaving unusually
  • your child has headache, nausea or vomiting.

Treatment for a black eye

If your child has a black eye, put an ice-pack over the eye for 10-20 minutes every two hours for the first 24 hours. This can help reduce the swelling.

Sleeping propped up on a few pillows can also help reduce the swelling around the eyes.

It can take 1-2 weeks for the swelling and bruising to go away completely.