Eyelid Diagnosis & Treatments
A swollen eyelid occurs when there is inflammation or excess fluid (edema) in the connective tissues surrounding the eye. Swollen eyes can be painful and non-painful, and affect both the upper and lower eyelids.
There are numerous causes of a swollen eye, including eye infections, eye injuries or trauma, and, most commonly, allergies. Swelling of the eyelids can be a sign of a more serious, potentially sight-threatening health problem, such as orbital cellulitis, Graves’ disease and ocular herpes.
Symptoms Of Swollen Eyes
Swelling of the eyelids is a symptom of an underlying cause, such as allergy or infection. Swollen eyes usually are accompanied by one or more of the following:
- Swollen eyelid
- A swollen eyelid may be a symptom of allergies or a sign of a serious eye infection.
- Eye irritation, such as an itchy or scratchy sensation
- Excess tear production, resulting in watering eyes
- Redness of the eyelid
- Obstructed vision (depending on the extent of the swelling)
- Red eyes and inflammation of the conjunctiva
- Eye discharge, or “mattering”
- Eyelid dryness or flaking
- Pain, particularly when swollen eyelids are caused by infection
Causes Of Swollen Eyes
There are numerous causes of swollen eyelids — ranging from mild to potentially sight-threatening conditions.
- Allergies – Eye allergies occur when your immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, called an allergen. Pollen, dust, pet dander, certain eye drops and contact lens solutions are some of the most common eye allergens. An allergic reaction to makeup also is a known culprit of swollen eyes. Eye allergies develop when your eyes release chemical “mediators” to protect your eyes from allergens to which you are sensitive.The most common is histamine, which causes blood vessels in your eyes to dilate and swell, mucous membranes to itch and your eye to become red and watery.
- Conjunctivitis – Also called “pink eye,” conjunctivitis is inflammation of the clear lining of the surface of the eye, called the conjunctiva. Allergic, bacterial and viral types of pink eye can all result in swollen eyelids, among other symptoms such as watery, red and itchy eyes.
- Styes – Usually appearing as a swollen, reddish bump on the edge of an eyelid, styes are caused by bacterial infection and inflammation of a meibomian gland. When these oil-producing glands get blocked, eyelid swelling is a typical symptom. A stye can cause the whole eyelid to swell, and typically is tender to the touch.
- Contact lens wear – Improper care for contact lenses — such as wearing dirty lenses, swimming in contact lenses or storing contacts in a dirty lens case — can cause an eye infection and swollen eyelids. Using damaged contacts also can irritate eyes and cause your eyelids to swell.
- Blepharitis – This is inflammation of the eyelids, usually caused by malfunctioning of the oil glands in the lids that empty near the base of the eyelashes. Blepharitis is characterized by swollen and painful eyelids and can be accompanied by dandruff-like flaky eyelid skin and loss of eyelashes.
- Orbital cellulitis – This is a rare but serious bacterial infection of tissues surrounding the eye, resulting in painful swelling of the upper and lower eyelid, and possibly the eyebrow and cheek. Other symptoms include bulging eyes, decreased vision, fever, and eye pain when moving the eyes. Orbital cellulitis is a medical emergency and prompt IV antibiotic treatment often is needed to prevent optic nerve damage, permanent vision loss or blindness and other serious complication.
- Ocular herpes – Transmitted by the common herpes simplex virus, ocular herpes sometimes is dubbed “the cold sore of the eye,” and causes inflammation (and sometimes scarring) of the cornea. Symptoms of eye herpes can be similar to pink eye, however there may be painful sores on your eyelid, blurry vision due to a cloudy cornea and swollen eyes which may be so extreme that it obstructs your vision.