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Swollen Eyelid

Swollen Eyelid

Swollen eyelid not only causes a lot of pain and discomfort, but also hinders normal vision. Eye allergies, conjunctivitis, stye, ocular shingles, etc., are known to cause swelling of the eyelid. Let's find out more about the causes of eyelid swelling in this HealthHearty article.
Priya Johnson
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Swollen eyelid is an indication of some type of infection and can be accompanied by a slight discharge from the corner of the eye. Eyelid swelling can be caused as a result of allergies, blocked glands, conjunctivitis, orbital cellulitis, blepharitis, stye, and chalazion. Symptoms of eyelid swelling usually include inflammation, redness, itching, scale formation, etc., in the areas around the eyes and the eyelids. This swelling may be accompanied by severe pain and discomfort. It may also hamper one's ability to see clearly.
Causes of Swollen Eyelids
Though the eyelids as well as the area around the eyes, can turn puffy due to the lack of sleep, stressful lifestyle, fluid retention during pregnancy (preeclampsia), etc., swelling mostly occurs due to various infections, allergies, or physical trauma. There are several conditions that lead to swollen eyelids, however, we will look at some of the most common ones in this HealthHearty article.
Eye Allergies
Eyelid swelling may be the result of allergic reactions. One could be allergic to anything from soap, makeup, perfumes, cosmetic products, pollen, pet dander, etc. Insect bites or food allergies can also cause the eyelids to swell.
When the eye is exposed to an allergen, the mast cells in the eye release histamines and other chemicals, to fight the allergen. These released chemicals, cause irritation in the eye, such as redness, itching and burning sensation. Swelling of the eye and eyelids is also seen. The allergy causative can be anything one comes in contact with, thus the identification has to be done carefully, mostly by the elimination method. One should try to find out the cause behind the allergies of the eye and then avoid coming in contact with that product.
Contact Lenses
Damaged contact lenses can irritate the eye and conduce to swelling of the eyelids. Sometimes the type of cleaning solution used may also be the reason behind eyelid swelling. The best way to be sure whether your contact lenses are at fault, would be to stop using them for sometime. If it fails to reduce, the swelling might be caused by some other factor.
Meibomitis
Several glands called meibomian glands (modified sebaceous glands), line the margins of the eyelids. These glands are responsible for producing oil, that forms an important component of tears. Sometimes hormonal imbalances, allergies, etc. can cause the oil secreted by these glands to become thicker, which then gets accumulated on the eyelids. This accumulated oil acts as the perfect rostrum for bacterial overgrowth. This causes reddening and swelling of the eyelids, along with itching and soreness. However, this condition is not a serious one, and can be treated easily.
Conjunctivitis
In this condition, the protective membrane lining the eyelids and exposed regions of the eyeball, called conjunctiva gets swollen, itchy and red. Conjunctivitis or pink eye is caused due to environmental irritants, viral or bacterial infections, allergy, chemical (eye drops) etc., and can spread from one person to another. This is why conjunctivitis can be broadly classified into three groups; infective conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis and irritant conjunctivitis. Usually conjunctivitis heals on its own in a few days time, although antibiotic drops can be given to treat the condition.
Glaucoma
Glaucoma is a medical condition, in which the optic nerve of the eye is damaged. It is not caused by one particular disease, but a group of diseases are responsible for the optic nerve damage. This condition is caused by pressure build-up in the eye, however, it also happens otherwise. In rare cases, chemical injuries to the eyes, eye infections, etc. are also sometimes responsible for glaucoma. If not treated on time, glaucoma can lead to blindness.
Depending on the type of glaucoma affecting the eye, the symptoms will vary. The saddest part is that glaucoma usually attacks without major symptoms, and gradually steals away one's vision. Some of the symptoms that people may experience are headaches, watering of the eyes, swelling in the eyelids, decreased vision, etc. Eye drops are given to control glaucoma, which help people with this condition to lead to normal life. Surgery may also be carried out, to further control glaucoma, that has not been responding well to the eye drops.
Orbital Cellulitis
This infection is a rare but extremely serious condition, involving infection of the tissues surrounding the eyes. In this infection, bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus enter the cavities of the eye, via a sinus infection or trauma to the eye region. Inflammation, pain and swelling in the eyelid and eyeball accompany this condition. Moreover, the sufferer can even experience blurred vision and fever. At the onset of these symptoms, one should immediately consult a physician. If not treated on time, this infection can result in permanent vision loss and other neurological infections.
Blepharitis
This condition refers to the inflammation of the eye margin, and is mostly caused by bacterial infection or seborrheic dermatitis (skin disorder). Blepharitis is characterized by excess oil production in the glands, situated at the base of the eyelashes. Moreover, the margins appear red with the base of the eyelashes attached with dandruff-like scales. Some other symptoms of this infection are reddened and inflamed eyelid margins, crusty flakes at the base of the eyelashes, itchy and burning eyes. Loss of eyelashes is also observed.
Stye
Styes are caused by bacterial infections occurring in the sweat or oil-producing glands, at the base of the eyelashes. This infection is also accompanied by swelling and pus, thereby causing the formation of a painful red lump at the edge of the eyelid. Besides the pain, swelling in the eyelid deters proper vision and sometimes, the infection affects the whole eyelid area. There is no particular reason as to why people get affected by styes. The bacteria Staphylococcus is responsible for causing this infection. This bacteria is generally found on the surface of the skin, and is normally harmless, however, sometimes it makes its way into the body and causes various infections. Styes are infectious and proper handwashing needs to be done, after touching the eyelids.
Chalazion
This condition resembles a stye, however, there's a marked difference between the two. A chalazion looks like a stye, but mostly grows away from the edge of the eyelid. Eye duct blockage developed in the eye's lubricating glands causes this condition. Swelling in the eyelid and tenderness are the symptoms of chalazion. The latter stages are accompanied by the formation of white cyst-like bumps within the lower and upper eyelids. As time progresses chalazions usually disappear on their own.
Ocular Shingles
Shingles caused by the varicella zoster virus can affect the eyes, nose, cheek and other parts of the face. When it affects the eye region, it is known as ocular shingles. The eyelids will swell and even block vision. Besides swollen eyelids, a person will also experience excessive tearing, reddening of the eyes, blisters on the eyelids and other parts of the face, sensitivity to light, etc. Anti-viral drugs are given to treat this condition.
Grave's Eye Disease
People suffering from hyperthyroidism or Grave's disease, may at times develop eye symptoms, which is termed as Grave's eye disease. People experience symptoms like eye irritation, swollen eyelids, excessive tearing, sensitivity to light, etc. People with eyelid swelling are advised to sleep with their heads elevated, so as to help reduce the swelling.
Measles
Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that is commonly seen in children. Swollen eyelid is one of the symptoms of measles, along with mild fever, watering of the eyes, and rashes on the body. However, with the MMR vaccine, measles is no longer seen to occur, especially in the United States and Canada.
Eye Injury
Injury to the eye or eye surgery can also be one of the reasons conducing to swollen eyelids.
Renal and sinus problems can also cause eyelids to swell. In fact, there are several other factors conducing to eyelid swelling. Do not be under the impression that swollen eyelids are only caused by the above mentioned conditions.
Home Remedies for Swollen Eyelids
Since the eye is a very sensitive and crucial part of our body, rather than making our own diagnosis, it's better to consult the eye specialist and find out the true cause of swelling. Till then avoid touching or rubbing your eye, as this will only aggravate the situation. One should also discard all makeup that has been used in the past few days. However, if for some reason the doctor's appointment is not until a day later, then you could try out these simple home remedies to reduce swelling of the eyelids.
▲Teabags
The tea present in tea bags contain tannic acid which assist in swelling reduction. Dip a tea bag in a glass of tepid water and place it on your eyelid. After 15 minutes or so, you will find some relief.
▲Cold or Hot Compress
Dip a face towel in a bowl of cold water and place the cold towel on your eyelid. For a hot compress dunk your face towel in tepid water and squeeze excess water out. Place it on your swollen eyelid. You may even wrap your towel in a plastic wrap to avoid water trickling down your face.
▲Cold Milk
You can also take a large ball of cotton or gauze pad and dip it in cold milk. Apply the milk-soaked cotton on your eyelid for 15-20 minutes. This will definitely give you temporary relief.
▲Cucumber or Potato
One can also place fresh cucumber or potato slices on the eyelid to reduce swelling. The slices must be cold, and as and when they get warm, replace them with fresh slices.
Don't take any medicines without the knowledge of the medical practitioner. You may make the wrong diagnosis and take the wrong medicines. Always consult a doctor before taking unknown drugs. Moreover, home remedies may act differently for different people, which is why it is a must to check with the medical professional prior to trying out any remedy. After the swelling subsides, maintaining proper eye care can prevent from contracting an eye infection in the future.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.