Head and Face
NASPE/NCAT Sport Injury Resource
Black Eye (Orbital Hematoma)
A black eye occurs when the eye suffers a blow, resulting in discoloration and
swelling around the soft tissue of the eye. Check to make sure vision is clear.
Check to make sure the eye can track properly by having the athlete follow your
finger up, down, and to each side. Check to make sure the eyeball is steady
and does not flicker/twitch. Check to make sure there are no lacerations around
the eye. Check to make sure the athlete does not have a head injury/concussion.
Care of an eye contusion includes application of an ice pack for approximately
20 minutes. Make sure to cover the skin with a towel prior to applying a commercial
Foreign Object in the Eye
A foreign object in the eye (i.e., sand, dirt) can produce considerable pain
and disability. DO NOT rub the eye. Rubbing the eye may cause
the foreign object to scratch the cornea. If the foreign object cannot be removed
with an eyewash kit or there is difficulty removing the foreign object, the
athlete should be seen by an eye doctor (Ophthalmologist) as soon as possible.
If there is a foreign object lodged in the eyeball (i.e., stick, pencil),
DO NOT REMOVE IT. Cover both eyes, try to stabilize
the object and transport the athlete to the emergency room as quickly as possible.
The cornea is a transparent layer that surrounds the eyeball. It may become
scratched due to a foreign object (i.e., sand) in the eye or from a finger or
other object poked into the eye. An athlete with a corneal abrasion will often
have watering of the eye, severe pain and sensitivity to light, which may make
it difficult to open the eye. If a corneal abrasion is suspected, you should
patch the eye and transport the athlete to an eye doctor.
The retina is a group of nerves located behind the eyeball, allowing vision
to be transmitted via nerves to the brain. A retinal detachment often occurs
due to a blow to the eye, such as when a wrestler takes an elbow in the eye.
The detachment itself is usually painless; however, there are certain signs
and symptoms you need to be aware of. Early signs include seeing what appears
to be spots floating before the eye, flashes of light or blurred vision. Complaints
of a “curtain” falling over the field of vision is also possible.
If an athlete experiences any of the above signs or symptoms, transport the
athlete to an eye doctor as soon as possible.
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