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Eyelid swelling occurs when the area around your eyes fills up with fluid. This condition is also known as "puffy eyes."
The eyelids may swell due to a localized infection, trauma, or any disease that encourages fluid retention.
Eyelid swellings can occur in one or both eyes.
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There are many reasons why your eyelids may be swollen. They include the following:
Seasonal allergies, such as hay fever, as well as allergic responses to foods, medications, and insect bites, can all cause eyelid swelling.1
If one of your eyelids is inflamed, red, and itchy, it is most likely due to an allergic response to something in your eye (e.g.,animal dander, pollen, or dust).
Conjunctivitis is an infection of the conjunctiva (the thin tissue that lines your eyelids and covers the white of your eye). Most cases are related to adenovirus, which also causes cold symptoms and pneumonia.
Allergic reactions can also cause conjunctivitis. The condition can affect one or both eyes.
Infectious viral conjunctivitis is very contagious and requires professional medical attention.
Pink eye therapy is often aimed at symptom alleviation. Your doctor may advise you to use artificial tears, wipe your eyes with a wet cloth, and apply cold or warm compresses multiple times each day.2
In case of allergic reactions, your eye doctor may prescribe antihistamines, steroids, mast cell stabilizers, or anti-inflammatory drops.
Eye herpes, sometimes termed ocular herpes, may produce painful sores on the eyelid or the eye surface itself. Both the cornea and the eyelid may be affected.
Cellulitis is a more severe cause of swelling of the eyelids. It is a bacterial infection of the skin.
When someone comes in with eyelid swelling, there are two major kinds that eye physicians look for: preseptal cellulitis and orbital cellulitis.3
Preseptal cellulitis is a skin infection that affects the eyelid and/or surrounding skin. People often experience red eyes, as well as pain from swelling. In most cases, it only affects one eye.
Orbital cellulitis is an infection of the tissues around and behind the eye. This condition may be related to sinus infection or can develop from an existing preseptal cellulitis. The infection spreads into the region surrounding the eye sockets.
People suffering from orbital cellulitis may experience a bulging eye and pain while shifting their eyes back and forth. Other symptoms include:
Treatment includes antibiotic therapy targeting the bacteria. Symptoms often improve within 24 to 48 hours.
Grave's disease is a thyroid problem that can cause the eyelids to swell or bulge out of the sockets.
According to research, hyperthyroidism (high levels of thyroid hormones) can cause the eyes to swell or seem puffy.4 This is because the condition affects muscles and tissues around the eye.
A chalazion is a blocked gland on the inner rim of the upper or lower eyelid.6 It is usually a painless swelling.
The swelling is typically localized, although it may affect the whole eyelid, obstructing vision.
Rosacea patients stand a higher risk of developing chalazions. This is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the skin on the face.
Most cases of chalazion are treated at home. You can do the following:
A stye or hordeolum is a sensitive red lump caused by inflammation of the eyelash follicles.7
A stye typically has pus in the middle of the enlarged eyelid and is characterized by a feeling of itchiness, pain, and tenderness.
Consult your healthcare professional for more advanced care if your stye lasts longer than a week despite home remedies.
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelash follicles and the skin around the upper and lower eyelid margins.8 Blepharitis causes the eyelid margins to swell, flake, and scale.
This illness is caused by an overgrowth of bacteria usually present on the eyelids.
According to the National Eye Institute, there are 2 types of blepharitis:9
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience the following:
Eyelid swelling may be caused by skull fractures, burns, direct impact, foreign objects in the eye, and surgery.
Eye injury should always be examined by a qualified healthcare professional to rule out any potential dangers.
Although rare, eye cancer is associated with swelling of the eyelids.
Eye cancer occurs when there is an abnormal growth of cells in the eyes, resulting in a swelling commonly referred to as a tumor.10
Eyelid swelling usually goes away within 24 to 48 hours.
However, you may need to seek immediate medical attention in some circumstances.
If your eyelid remains swollen for more than 48 hours, it's time to seek immediate medical attention.
Severe symptoms to watch out for include:
A physician or eye doctor will diagnose your condition and prepare you for treatment. If the reason for the swollen eyelid is severe enough, an ophthalmologist referral may be required.
You can treat most cases of eyelid swelling at home with easy home treatments such as cold compresses for periodic eye redness and swelling.
Chronic cases should be examined by a doctor immediately.
Common medical treatments for swollen eyes include:
Common home remedies for swollen eyelids include the following:
Contact a healthcare expert immediately away if your eyelids swell as a result of a serious allergic reaction.
Self-care techniques may still help minimize swelling. An injection of epinephrine at the doctor's office or emergency room may be required to calm the reaction.
Eyelid swelling prevention tips include:
“What Are Eye Allergies?,” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 10 September, 2010
“Pink eye (conjunctivitis),” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER)
“Periorbital and Orbital Cellulitis,” American Medical Association, 14 January, 2020
“Hypothyroidism symptoms: Can hypothyroidism cause eye problems?,” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER)
“FDA approves first treatment for thyroid eye disease,” US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 21 january, 2020
“Chalazion,” American Optometric Association
“Hordeolum (Stye),” The Johns Hopkins University
“Blepharitis,” American Optometric Association
“At a glance: Blepharitis,” National Eye Institute, 31 August, 2020
“Eye cancer,” National Health Service (NHS-UK)