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Is it Really Just A Black Eye?

During summer, kids are on break from school and plan to enjoy every moment of freedom. However, this freedom increases the likelihood for accidents. Simple accidents such as getting hit with a ball, running into another child or accidentally being elbowed in the face can all result in a black eye.

Caused by blunt force trauma to the face, a black eye can be a source of discomfort and is a fairly common injury among children and teens. Normally, effects of a black eye are not permanent and may include symptoms such as bruising, swelling, slight pain and blurred vision following impact.

Typically, an individual will start to experience such symptoms within the first 24 hours. During this time, swelling and bruising around the eyes becomes noticeable and eventually forms what most individuals refer to as a “shiner.” Over the next several days, the swelling will decrease, bruising will begin to disappear and the black eye will fade.

Although most black eyes are considered harmless, some traumas can cause significant damage to vision and should not be ignored. Although an injury may seem minor, a black eye could be a potential indicator of a more serious problem.

Symptoms such as seeing  flashes of light, dark shapes, having  blurred or total loss of vision, or experiencing double vision and pain when exposed to bright light are all indi  cators of a negative impact to one’s vision.

Common vision-related consequences of black-eyes include traumatic unveitis, a hyphema, glaucoma, an orbital floor fracture and a detached retina.

• Traumatic unveitis is a common side-effect caused by a black eye. Symptoms include reddened eyes, painful vision when exposed to light, an irregular shaped pupil, blurred vision and floating spots obstructing vision.
• A Hyphema occurs when blood accumulates in the anterior chamber of the eye, the area between the colored iris and the cornea, causing blurred vision and pain when exposed to bright light. Typically, a hyphema is miniscule in size and difficult to identify by an untrained eye, but large hyphemas can fill the eye with blood. If left untreated, a hyphema can cause permanent, partial or total vision loss.
• Glaucoma is an increased pressure within the eye that damages the optic nerve caused by an accumulation of blood. Signs can become evident immediately or not be present until several years following the trauma. Symptoms include eye pain, nausea, visual disturbance, blurred vision, reddened eye and a halo effect surrounding the eye.
• An Orbital Floor Fracture occurs when blunt force pushes the eyeball into the socket and fractures the bone surrounding the eye. This fracture pinches the muscles allowing eye movement as well as the optic nerve. Double vision and/or loss of vision are the main warning signs.
• A Detached retina: A detached retina occurs when trauma tears or pulls the retina away from the posterior lining of the eyeball and can result in permanent vision loss. Symptoms include seeing flashing lights, spotted vision, and complete or total vision loss.

Although a black eye can indicate a more serious vision-related injury, it is important to note that not all black eyes result in such consequences.

Following blunt trauma, be conscious of the symptoms being experienced and check for warning signs of a more serious problem. If symptoms persist, seek the expertise of an optometrist or doctor.