Black eyeOverview

A black eye is bruising and swelling around your eye, usually caused by a blow to the area, such as a punch or fall. It should get better within 2 to 3 weeks.

How to ease a black eye yourself

Do

  • gently hold an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a cloth) to the area around your eye for about 10 to 20 minutes at a time, and repeat regularly during the first 1 to 2 days
  • take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for any pain
  • after the first 2 days, gently apply a warm (not hot) heat pack or cloth to the area around your eye regularly during the day

Don't

  • take aspirin, unless prescribed by a doctor, as this can make the bruising worse
  • press or rub the area around your eye
  • put ice directly on your skin

See a GP if you have a black eye and:

  • you have severe pain or swelling
  • you have a headache that doesn't go away, or blurry vision
  • the area around your eye is warm or leaking pus
  • your temperature is very high, or you feel hot and shivery
  • it doesn't go away within 3 weeks

Ask for an urgent appointment if you have a black eye and:

  • you're taking blood-thinning medication (such as warfarin)
  • you have a bleeding disorder (such as haemophilia)

Go to A&E if:

  • there's blood visible in your eye
  • you have an irregularly shaped pupil (the black dot at the centre of the eye)
  • you had a blow to the head and have bruising around both eyes
  • you have problems with your vision, such as double vision, loss of vision, seeing flashing light, halos or shadows, or pain when looking at a bright light
  • you can't move your eye

Page last reviewed: 24/09/2017
Next review due: 24/09/2020