Reducing a Swollen, Black & Blue Eye

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You can reduce a swollen black and blue eye in a number of different ways depending on your preferences. Learn more about reducing a swollen black and blue eye with help from an eye and facial plastic surgeon in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Information on Eyes
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Dr. Matheson Harris, an oculoplastic surgeon/ophthalmologist in Salt Lake City, Utah. A black eye is a common injury which usually gets better on its own with a few simple treatments you can do at home. Black eyes usually occur because of trauma to or near the eye. It's important to be aware of and seek treatment for more serious medical injuries which can cause black eyes. You should see a doctor immediately if you have a black eye which causes change in vision, which results in swelling that doesn't resolve within a few days, is associated with severe pain, involves blood pooling in the eye, is associated with a laceration near the eye, or involves any deformity to the bones of the face. Behavior changes, confusion, or any fluid draining from the eyes, nose, or mouth can be a sign of a serious head injury. Two black eyes can be the sign of a fracture of the skull base which is also a very significant injury for which you should seek immediate attention. Once you've ruled out a more severe injury and you have just a black eye you can go ahead and just put some ice over the eye, wrapped in a thin towel to avoid freezing the skin. This should be taken on and off every 20 minutes to avoid further skin damage. Swelling should resolve within a few days and the bruising can take up to two weeks to resolve. This will change color generally from a red or purple color to green and then to yellow as it resolves. Early on it's not a bad idea to sleep with your head slightly elevated on two pillows to reduce swelling at night. Applying raw meat to a black eye is not recommended. Not only will this not make any difference in the black eye, it also may introduce bacteria into any lacerations around the eye. If you have any other questions about black eyes or other eye injuries see an ophthalmologist in your area.


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