Skip to content

    Eye Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Understanding Black Eye

    What Is a Black Eye?

    A ''black eye'' is a bruise to the eyelid skin caused by blunt trauma to the eye region. Like many bruises, a "shiner" may be nothing to worry about and might disappear on its own in a few days.

    In some cases, however, a black eye is a warning sign of more serious injury to the eye or to the skull. Any damage to the eyeball that causes it to become red and swollen must be promptly evaluated by a doctor or an eye specialist. Blunt force eye injuries, as happens in fighting, competitive sports, and ordinary accidents, could involve an unsuspected detached retina, internal bleeding, or other serious problems. A fracture involving the delicate bones around the eye may trap an eye muscle or soft tissues. An orbital fracture could damage the optic nerve and permanently damage eyesight. If so, emergency surgery may be required to correct the condition.

    Understanding Black Eye

    Find out more about a black eye:

    Basics

    Symptoms

    Treatment

    What Causes a Black Eye?

    Most black eyes are the result of blunt trauma that causes bleeding beneath the thin eyelid skin, producing the characteristic black and blue discoloration. A fracture deep inside the skull can also blacken both eyes, even though the eye area itself was not injured. People with sinusitis from allergies sometimes get "allergic shiners" -- darkening under the eyes caused by inflamed and engorged blood vessels.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on March 01, 2015

    Today on WebMD

    Woman holding tissue to reddened eye
    Learn about causes, symptoms, and treatments.
    eye
    Simple annoyance or the sign of a problem?
     
    red eyes
    Symptoms, triggers, and treatments.
    blue eye with contact lens
    Tips for wearing and caring.
     
    Understanding Stye
    Article
    human eye
    Article
     
    eye
    Video
    eye exam timing
    Video
     
    vision test
    Tool
    is vision correction surgery for you
    Article
     
    high tech contacts
    Article
    eye drop
    Article