emergency medicine at ncemi   More Emergency Medicine Resources
Back to table of contents

2.01 Periorbital Ecchymosis (Black Eye)


The patient has received blunt trauma to the eye, most often from a fist, a fall, or a car accident, and is alarmed because of the swelling and discoloration. Family or friends may be more concerned than the patient about the appearance of the eye. There may be an associated subconjunctival hemorrhage, but the remainder of the eye exam should be negative and there should be no palpable bony deformities, diplopia or subcutaneous emphysema.

What to do:

What not to do:


Black eyes are most commonly nothing more than uncomplicated facial contusions. Patients become upset about them because they are so "near the eye," because they produce such noticeable facial disfigurement, and because there is often secondary gain being sought against the person who hit them. Nonetheless, serious injury must always be considered and ruled out prior to the patient's discharge from your care.

Table of Contents
from Buttaravoli & Stair: COMMON SIMPLE EMERGENCIES
Longwood Information LLC 4822 Quebec St NW Washington DC 20016-3229 fax electra@clark.net
Emergency Medicine at NCEMI   More emergency medicine resources
Write to us at NCEMI
Craig Feied, MD
Mark Smith, MD
Jon Handler, MD
Michael Gillam, MD