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Swollen Eyeball

Swollen Eyeball

A blunt force ocular trauma or a traumatic eye injury is one of the main contributory factors for a swollen eyeball. Let's learn about the other possible reasons behind the swelling in and around the eyes.
Smita Pandit
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
The eyeball is the round-shaped capsule that is surrounded by the eye socket. The round shape of the eyeball is maintained due to the presence of vitreous humor, which is a transparent gel-like substance. The outer layer of the eyeball contains cornea, and the sclera (white part of the eyes). The cornea is a transparent dome-shaped part of the eyeball that covers the front portion of the eye. It is coated by a tear film. The upper and lower eyelids, which are folds of skin covering the eyes, help in moistening the surface of the eyes by spreading the secretions from the tear glands. Since eyes are extremely delicate, injury or trauma can give rise to a swollen eyeball.
Causes
Exposure to environmental irritants, injuries, infections and certain eye conditions are some of the common causes of swelling, redness, pain, dryness, tearing of the eyes, eye discharge and increased sensitivity to light.
Trauma: Injuries are one of the most common contributory factors for swelling. A direct blow to the eye can lead to bruising and swelling. Blunt trauma can cause damage to the structures such as the sclera, cornea, eyelid, conjunctiva, lens or the iris. Sometimes, the structures located at the back could also get damaged. The tissue surrounding the eyes or the bones of the socket could also get damaged due to such injuries.
Corneal Swelling: Since misuse of contact lenses is often a contributory factor for corneal abrasions or corneal ulceration, those who wear contact lenses on a daily basis need to be very careful. They must always wash their hands before putting on contact lenses and removing them. Never rub your eyes vigorously, especially while wearing contact lenses.
Allergic Reaction: A person might end up with swollen eyes or swollen eyelids if he / she comes in contact with a substance that he / she might be allergic to. Pet dander, pollen, dust and chemical fumes are some of the common allergens. This could lead to allergic conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis refers to the inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the mucous membrane that lines the insides of the eyelids and the sclera. Women must make sure that they use good-quality eye makeup products. Using such products after the expiration date has already passed could make them susceptible to such conditions.
Graves' Ophthalmopathy: Puffy eyes is one of the major symptoms of Graves' disease. Graves' ophthalmopathy, which is also known as thyroid eye disease, is characterized by swelling in the muscles around the eyes. Not everyone diagnosed with Graves' disease might suffer from protrusion of eyeball, but those who do, must seek medical help at the earliest.
Treatment
Since one of the main contributory factors for fluid retention or swelling around the eyes is Graves' ophthalmopathy, you must consult an ophthalmologist for figuring out the treatment options. Those who suffer from this condition may experience symptoms such as increased sensitivity to light, dryness, redness, eye discharge, ocular pressure, pain or protruded eyeballs.
Medication
The treatment may involve the use of medicated eyedrops. The medication and dosage that would be prescribed would vary depending on the symptoms experienced by the patient. In case the swelling is causing a lot of discomfort, steroids can be used to ease the pain and to reduce the swelling. If your eyeballs and eyelids are swollen and you are also experiencing ocular pressure or pain, ophthalmologists may prescribe glucocorticoid or cyclosporine.
Surgery
In event of a medical emergency, surgery may be done to decompress the orbit. People suffering from thyroid eye disease could even develop eyelid abnormalities. Under such circumstances, eyelid surgery might be done to strengthen, stretch and reconstruct the eyelids themselves.
Precautionary Measures
  • You can apply cold compresses, but make sure that you don't put pressure on the eyes while doing so.
  • It has been seen that cessation of smoking is an important step towards treating Graves' Ophthalmopathy. So, if you are suffering from this condition, you must quit smoking.
  • You must pay attention to all aspects of eye care. Do not strain your eyes.
  • Since excessive intake of alcohol can cause the tissues around the eyes to swell up, it would be best to cut doen on your intake of alcohol.
  • Do wear protective eye gear while stepping outdoors, especially if it is windy.
  • If a foreign body enters the eye, wash your eyes carefully.
  • If you suffer from an injury that results in bleeding, get medical help at the earliest.
Since our eyes are very delicate, a lack of eye care can surely make one susceptible to eye infections. An early diagnosis is very essential, so if you observe swelling, redness and pain, consult an ophthalmologist immediately. When diagnosed in the early stages, the chances of full recovery would be high.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of an ophthalmologist.