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Health A-Z

Medical Content Created by the Faculty of the
Harvard Medical School

Symptoms

A black eye causes swelling and black-and-blue discoloration of the eyelids and soft tissues around the eye.

Sometimes, trauma that results in a black eye also causes small areas of bleeding on the white of the eye and on the inner lining of the eyelids. If you have bright-red or dark-red discoloration of your eyeball, you have another problem. This discoloration most likely is caused by a condition called a subconjunctival hemorrhage, which means a small blood vessel in the eye breaks and bleeds. This bleeding can be caused by trauma or by retching or vomiting. Like a black eye, the color change from a subconjunctival hemorrhage typically goes away slowly on its own, and the condition does not need any treatment.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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