Swollen eyelids are a condition where one/both of the top and bottom eyelids undergo enlargement. This condition can be the result of the accumulation of too much fluid or eye tissue inflammation. When the body is fighting an infection or suffering an injury or allergy, swollen eyelids can be the result .
Symptoms accompanying the swollen eyelids are many including eye irritation, obstruction in vision on account of swelling, and redness and inflammation of the eyelid as well as the conjunctiva. Excessive production of water or tear in the eyes can also cause swollen eyelids. Eye dryness and eye pain can also be an accompanying symptom.
Swollen eyelids can be chronic or short-term depending on the mildness or severity of the condition. In case the condition appears in a gradual or sudden way, it should never be ignored in either case. This is because swollen eyelids can also be a sign of a medical condition. Most people will encounter the condition sooner or later. Apart from discomfort, impaired vision, and disfiguration, there are other reasons why you need to seek help. Swollen eyelids accompanied by certain other symptoms such as fever or vision problems mean a serious underlying medical condition.
Swollen Eyelids: A Clinical Picture
The upper eyelid maintains the moisture on the surface of the eyes and evades injuries for this sensitive organ. Eyelids blink as a reflex and this can cause secretions of the lacrimal gland or external particles to enter the eye. If there is a swelling on the upper eyelid, this can cause pain and discomfort. What is the general cause of the swollen eyelid? It could be anything from infections to allergic reactions and use of cosmetic products and too much oil.
These play a vital role in protecting the eyes. They help by keeping dust and other outside objects from coming into the eye. Tears and water are generally released to keep the eye lubricated. Swollen bottom eyelids are usually the result of factors such as infection, inflammation, obstruction of the eye-moistening glands, allergies as well as conditions like edema.
Causes of Swollen Eyelids
This is one of the leading conditions of inflammation of the eyelids. This condition is also called as pink eye. It happens when there is an infection in the conjunctiva which can be transferred from one person to another. Conjunctivitis leading to swollen eyelids is generally accompanied by itchiness of the eyelids. The conjunctiva is the clear lining of the surface of the eye. The eye appears tinged in red also and factors causing this condition include:
- Environmental irritants
- Chemicals in eye medications
- Viral or bacterial infections
This is a condition in which there is inflammation around the eyelids as the glands situated near the bottom of the eyelashes become swollen. This is characterized by pain and swelling. The skin becomes flaky, and eyelash loss may also occur.
This is a rare, serious condition where the eye tissues become infected. A most common cause of this is Staphylococcus aureus. Inflammation and pain result when this reaches the eye cavity.
Medically, it is known as Hordeolum. This is an infection of the oil glands. Bacteria enters these glands situated close to the eyelashes. This causes swelling of the eyelid accompanied by pus formation, lumps, and pain.
When the meibomian gland is blocked by an infection, the eyelids become swollen and soft. Because of the obstructions, the secretion of the gland cannot find a way out resulting in eyelid inflammation. While it appears like a stye in the initial stages, it later becomes a sebaceous cyst which would form away from the eyelid’s edge.
Ocular Herpes/Cold Sore
This is an infection caused by herpes. It leads to corneal scarring and the inflammation of the eyelids. Herpes is from a family of the virus including cold sores, chicken pox, shingles and genital herpes. Along with the swollen eyelids, additional problems occur such as painful sores, blurred vision, and swelling of the eyelids.
Allergens are a leading cause of swollen eyelids. When they come into play, the immune system reacts and the condition that develops can even take your life.
- Environmental particles
- Pet dander
- Dust mite
- Cosmetic and eye products
- Eye drops
- Contact lens solutions
- Insect bites
Medical conditions associated with swollen eyelids include:
- Graves Disease
- Organ Failure
- Ocular Shingles
When a person is suffering from Graves Disease or thyroid diseases, swelling of the eyelid is common. In addition, the former disease can cause eyes to bulge, blurring and doubling vision and reducing eye movements.
Certain conditions such as fluid retention or preeclampsia during pregnancy may also cause swelling in the eyes and the body.
Finally, organ failure is associated with fluid retention and eyelid inflammation.
When the VZV strikes during shingles, swollen eyelids may be the result.
Going out in the sun without protection can also cause swollen eyelids. Sunburns may be accompanied by eyelid swelling due to prolonged exposure to sunlight. Having eye surgery or eye injury can also be a factor.
Sinus and Renal Problems
Sinus and renal problems are also associated with swollen eyelids.
Eyelids that are swollen do not make to any easier for the person to see. Apart from this swollen eyelids can also be accompanied by:
- Pain in the eye
- Itchy Eyes
- Blurred Vision
- Eyelash Loss
- Nephritic syndrome
- Crusty material developing on the eyelash
- Scale formation
- Puffiness and irritation
- Facial swelling
- Other symptoms include difficulty moving the eyeball
- Bleeding from the eye
- Droopy eyelids
- Increase in tear production
- Swelling and facial pain
Once you experience a head trauma, you can also feel tightness in the throat and a severe head pain.
Based on what is causing the swollen eyelid, treatment may be prescribed. For example, if an allergen is a cause, the physician will prescribe antihistamines. Eye drops or oral medication may be used along with mild steroid drops.
Lubrication may also be recommended in the form of artificial tears.
For viral conditions or diseases caused by infection, medications need to be given to kill the pathogen. Antibiotics or antiviral medication may be used.
Another important point is to avoid rubbing the eyes and use gauze pads soaked in milk to soothe the eyes. Cold or hot compress or potato slices can also prove beneficial. Cucumber slices work well because they are rich in silicon, water, caffeic acid and ascorbic acid. This can reduce water retention too.
Home remedies include cold tea bag (which can include green or black tea leaves that contain caffeine and tannic acid reducing the retention of fluid. Don’t wear makeup as this can irritate the eyes still further. Sleep with an elevated head to reduce fluid from collecting in the eyes during the night. Ice water is also a wonderful cure because it constricts the blood vessels and reduces swelling. Another point is your diet- eat less salt because high sodium diet increases fluid retention.
In the ultimate analysis, what matters is the cause of the swelling. If it a minor cause like pink eye or cold sore, OTC eye drops can be fine. But if the swollen eyelids are indicative of life-threatening allergies or medical complications, you need to seek medical help immediately. It is better to get a doctor to examine the eyelid inflammation for best outcomes.