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How do I Care for a Bruised Eye?

Caring for a bruised eye involves gentle measures: apply a cold compress to reduce swelling, avoid strenuous activities, and elevate your head while sleeping. Over-the-counter pain relief can ease discomfort. If vision changes or pain intensifies, seek medical attention. Curious about the healing stages and how to prevent further injury? Discover more in our comprehensive guide to eye bruise care.
Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

You can care for a bruised eye by applying ice to the area as soon as possible after the injury occurs. The main purpose of the ice is to help deal with any inflammation and pain, but it can also decrease swelling. After the first few days, the healing process can be accelerated by applying heat to the area, which can be done using a heating pad or something similar. Over time, the bruise will generally heal itself without any special treatment.

A bruised eye may be associated with significant pain, and while the ice can be soothing, you might choose to use pharmaceutical solutions as well. Many people choose to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen to deal with the pain, and this is generally considered an effective remedy. It's also possible to use acetaminophen to relieve this pain, and this might be the better option if you have some reason for avoiding NSAIDs. A medical professional may choose to prescribe something more serious for an especially severe eye bruise, especially if it is associated with some kind of additional injury.

A bruised eye should be treated with ice immediately.
A bruised eye should be treated with ice immediately.

Usually, a visit to a healthcare provider won’t be required for an eye bruise, but in certain cases, it might be a good idea. For example, it is possible for a facial injury to result in a concussion. If you experience headaches, drowsiness, or nausea, these things could be signs that a concussion has occurred, and a trip to the emergency room is probably the best choice. Any injury severe enough to cause a concussion might also damage the bones in the face, and this is another possible emergency that could be associated with a bruised eye.

An ice pack can help with a bruised eye.
An ice pack can help with a bruised eye.

It’s also possible for an injury to that part of your face to cause internal damage to your eye. It could cause a retinal detachment or other serious problem that might result in permanent vision impairment. Any vision problem after an eye injury is usually a good reason to visit the emergency room. It’s also a cause for concern if the eye is excessively bloodshot, or if there is any actual bleeding around the area of the eye.

Anatomy of the human eye.
Anatomy of the human eye.

An eye bruise can happen in a lot of different ways, but the injury is especially associated with contact-oriented sports. It’s also very common for it to happen as a result of a fist fight. The tissue in that area is soft, and the bones there are particularly sharp, which makes it a common place to get bruised from any kind of impact.

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Discussion Comments


What can be done if there is eye irritation in addition to a bruised eye?

Should eye drops or something similar be used for this? Will eye drops help with the bruise as well?


@ceilingcat-- Applying heat will help a bruised eye after a few days, but it will actually make things worse if it is applied immediately after the bruise happens.

A bruise is the result of damaged veins that cause blood to seep into tissues. Ice is best applied first because it will keep inflammation down and help the veins recover.

The logic of applying heat a few days later is to improve blood circulation to that area. But if it's applied too soon, it might make the bruise look worse.


This might sound gross to some people, but they say that placing a sliced raw potato or raw meat on a bruised eye lid is a very good treatment. Apparently, it treats the inflammation, relieves pain and fades the bruise quickly.

I have never tried it, haven't had the need, but it might be worth a try.

@dautsun - Gym class accidents are the worst. I remember when I took gym in high school a few people ended up with concussions. At least you only ended up with a bruised eye.

I had a bruised and and bruised eye lid when I was in high school. I accidentally got hit with a lacrosse stick in gym class. The stick hit me so hard my contact lens actually fell out. It was awful, and the person who was swinging the stick felt even worse than I did.

They took me to the school nurse, and she gave me an ice pack to put on my eye. Luckily it was almost the end of the day, so I was able to go home right after that. I put ice on my eye on and off for the rest of the afternoon.


@LoriCharlie - Applying ice first and then heat a few days later works for a bruised eye socket but also for other kinds of bruises too. I feel down and hurt myself awhile ago and ended up with some nasty bruises on my legs. I put the heating pad on them a few days later and I'm pretty sure it helped speed up the healing process.


@orangey03 - Any kind of bleeding from eye damage sounds like it could be scary. Luckily it was coming from the skin around the eye and not the eye itself.

Anyway, I knew that you were supposed to ice a bruised eye (I think I've seen too many movies where the main character puts a frozen steak on a black eye), but I had no idea you could apply heat after the first few days. I wonder if this works on other bruises as well? I've never had a black eye, but this could be good information to know if I fall and hurt myself or something.


I got hit in the eye with a softball, and the pain was so bad that I got someone to drive me to the doctor right away. I even bled a little, which really scared me.

It turned out that the bleeding was from the broken skin around my eyes and not the eyeball itself, which made me feel better. The pain was too intense for ibuprofen to ease, so the doctor gave me some prescription painkillers.

She also filled up a bag with ice and handed it to me. She told me to hold it over my eye on the way home.


I used ice and acetaminophen as a bruised eye treatment. My eye was pulsating, and the acetaminophen helped ease the throbbing pain.

I really believe that the ice played a big part in my rapid recovery. Any time that I have iced an injury, the bruise hasn't been as bad as it could have been. My eye turned purple instead of black, and I credit the ice with this.

Also, it didn't swell shut, which I've heard that bruised eyes tend to do. If I hadn't had access to an ice pack right after my injury happened, I'm sure it would have been much worse.

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    • A bruised eye should be treated with ice immediately.
      By: studioJowita
      A bruised eye should be treated with ice immediately.
    • An ice pack can help with a bruised eye.
      By: Marc Dietrich
      An ice pack can help with a bruised eye.
    • Anatomy of the human eye.
      Anatomy of the human eye.
    • A bruised eye is often accompanied by a great deal of pain, so some kind of pain-relieving drug may be necessary.
      By: Ded Pixto
      A bruised eye is often accompanied by a great deal of pain, so some kind of pain-relieving drug may be necessary.
    • A bruised eye may occur as a result of a fist fight.
      By: Dusan Kostic
      A bruised eye may occur as a result of a fist fight.