Eye Injuries: Blow to the Eye

Topic Overview

Some minor pain, bruising, and swelling are common following a blow to the eye. A black eye may show up after 1 or 2 days. A few specks or a small amount of blood on the white part of the eye often appear after a blow to the eye. Use home treatment to help relieve your symptoms.

A direct blow to the eye can damage the eyeball, the supporting muscles and ligaments, the eyelid, or the bony eye socket (orbit). Symptoms that may mean there is a more serious injury include:

  • Vision changes.
  • Inability to move the eye normally in all directions.
  • Pain with eye movements.
  • A large amount of blood in the white part (sclera) of the eye.
  • Any blood over the colored part (iris) of the eye.
  • A change in pupil size or shape, or pupils of different sizes.
  • Severe pain in the eyeball.
  • A feeling that something is in the eye (foreign body sensation).
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia).
  • Double or blurred vision.
  • Deformity of the bony eye socket that does not appear to be caused by swelling alone.
  • Numbness around the eye.
  • Abnormal upper eyelid movement.

With a blow to the eye, there is a chance that something punctured the eyeball. For more information, see the topic Objects in the Eye.

If there was a blow to the eye, check for other injuries. Concern about the eye may cause you to miss other more serious head or face injuries that need medical care. Also check to see whether the injured person is wearing contact lenses.

A blow to the eye can break (fracture) the bones of the eye socket (eye orbit), sinuses, or nose. The fractured bones may puncture the eye, causing bleeding and damage to the eye. A blow to the eye may damage muscles, blood vessels, or nerves. Head, eye, or facial surgery may be needed to repair damage.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Last Revised November 3, 2013

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