A closer look at the swollen upper eyelid, the lower eyelid, pain when blinking, treatments as well as the home remedies.
Swollen Upper Eyelid
A swollen eyelid happens when there is a lot of inflammation or even the excess fluid (edema) in the connective tissues that are surrounding the eye. Swollen upper eyelid may be painful and non-painful, and may also affect both the upper and lower eyelids.
An individual may experience swelling in one or both eyelids. Swelling can be painless or also accompanied by the itching or pain. Swollen upper eyelid is different from the bulging eyes although a few disorders can lead to both.
This condition can be brought about by a number of reasons but the most common causes include allergy apart from the eye infections, an injury to the eye and even sometimes trauma can also lead to a swollen eye.
In some other cases like ocular herpes and Graves’ disease, a swollen upper eyelid is just a symptom and shows the presence of a problem that can lead to sight loss in some cases as well. The swelling can occur below or above the eyelid on both eyes.
The swelling is brought about by the presence of excess edema in the tissues that are near the eye or can be brought about by inflammation as well. It is imperative that you visit your ophthalmologist for a complete checkup in case your swelling does not go away in a normal period of time or is getting worse with the passage of time.
There are various causes of a swollen upper eyelid, including eye infections, eye injuries or even the trauma, and, most commonly, also the allergies.
Swelling of the eyelids can be an indication of a more serious, potentially sight-threatening health problem, such as orbital cellulitis, Graves’ disease and the ocular herpes.
It’s crucial that you visit the eye doctor for a thorough eye examination if the symptoms persist, worsen or even change.
Swollen upper eyelid is a sign of an underlying reason, such as allergy or an infection. Swollen eyes usually are usually accompanied by one or more of the following:
- Eye irritation, such as an itchy or scratchy sensation
- Excess tear production, resulting in watering eyes
- Obstructed vision (depending on the extent of the swelling)
- Red eyes and inflammation of the conjunctiva
- Eye discharge
- Eyelid dryness or flaking
- Pain, especially when swollen eyelids are caused by infection
Causes of Swollen Eyes
There are several causes of swollen upper eyelid — ranging from the mild to potentially sight-threatening conditions.
Allergies. Eye allergies happen when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, known as an allergen. Pollen, dust, certain eye drops and contact lens solutions are some of the most common eye allergens. An allergic reaction to a makeup also is a culprit of swollen eyes.
Eye allergies usually develop when the eyes release chemical mediators so as to protect the eyes from allergens to which you may be sensitive.
The most common is the histamine, which leads to the blood vessels in the eyes to dilate and also swell, mucous membranes to itch and the eye to become red and even watery.
Conjunctivitis. Also known as “pink eye”, it is the inflammation of the clear lining of the surface of the eye, known as the conjunctiva. Allergic, bacterial and even viral types of pink eye can all lead to swollen upper eyelid, among several other symptoms such as the watery, red and itchy eyes.
Styes. Usually seen as a swollen, reddish bump on the edge of the eyelid, they are caused by the bacterial infection and the inflammation of a meibomian gland. When these oil-producing glands get blocked, swelling is a typical symptom. A stye can lead to the swollen upper eyelid, and typically is tender to the touch.
Chalazion. A chalazion, also brought about by a blocked meibomian gland, at first mimics a stye but then develops into a very hard sebaceous cyst. Another difference is that a stye happens on the edge of the eyelid whereas a chalazion normally develops away from the eyelid edge. Both the styes and chalazia lead to swollen upper eyelid and tenderness of the affected area.
Eye injuries. Any trauma to the eye area, including the eyelid contusion (trauma caused by cosmetic surgery – eyelid surgery), can trigger inflammation and swollen eyes.
Hooded or droopy upper eyelids
As you get older in age, it’s very common to have the excess skin above the upper eyelids that may overhang and block the vision. This is known as dermatochalasis. If it affects the vision, surgery may be needed to get rid of the excess skin.
However, this operation isn’t routinely funded so the doctor would require to submit a funding request for this to be considered.
If the edge of the upper lid droops down over the eye, it’s known as ptosis. This is usually age-related and develops slowly. Surgery may be needed if the edge of the lid droops so much your vision is affected.
In rare cases, ptosis isn’t related to the age and may be brought about by serious conditions such as brain tumor. In these cases, it’s likely there would be other symptoms too.
See the doctor immediately if ptosis comes on very rapidly, over days or weeks, or if it’s associated with other symptoms, such as a headache, loss of vision or even a change in the size of the pupil.
Swollen Lower Eyelid
Eyelid problems are very common and rarely serious, but see the doctor if you’re very worried or the eye is particularly uncomfortable.
Contact the doctor immediately if you also have pain in or around your eye or any loss of vision.
The information in this article should give you an idea of what may be wrong with a swollen upper eyelid, although it shouldn’t be used to self-diagnose the condition.
It’s very common for the upper or lower eyelid to become swollen due to a meibomian cyst (also called a chalazion). This happens when the glands in the eyelid become blocked.
These cysts vary in their size, from barely visible to the size of a grape. They normally take weeks to develop. They’re not usually painful, but may become red and painful if infected.
The cysts can come and go by themselves, although they may take a few months to get better. You can help them heal by holding a clean flannel that is warmed in hot water especially to the closed eye for about five minutes, and repeating this three to four times a day for up to four weeks.
Speak to the doctor if you have a cyst that doesn’t clear up after one month. They may refer you to have it drained through the swollen upper eyelid. This is a very simple procedure carried out under local anesthetic (the eye area will be numbed). It takes just a few minutes and rarely leaves any scar.
Also see the doctor if the cyst becomes very infected as you may require to take antibiotics so as to prevent a deep lid infection.
Another common cause of a swollen upper eyelid is a stye. A stye is a very minor infection of the base of an eyelash that usually clears up on its own in a about week or two. Holding of a warm flannel to it regularly can help it to heal faster.
Other causes of lid swelling include an allergic reaction and shingles on the face and eye (usually with a rash), but these are less common.
Lower eyelid that rolls outwards (ectropion)
As you get older, one or both of the lower eyelids may sometimes droop away from the eye and turn outwards. This is known as an ectropion.
The drooping eyelid may disrupt the normal production of the tears, which may lead to the eye to become dry, red and irritated.
Treatment may not be required in mild cases, although the drops or ointment may assist make the eye to be more comfortable. Sometimes a minor operation is required to correct the position of the eyelid.
Eyelids that roll inwards (entropion)
Entropion is where the eyelid now rolls inwards. It usually affects the lower lids, but it can also affect the upper lids. Like ectropion, this is often age-related.
Entropion usually leads to an uncomfortable watery eye as the lashes irritate the front of the eye (cornea). If this is mild, then using eyedrops may be required to protect the eye and keep you comfortable.
Severe entropion may be painful and lead to vision loss by damaging the cornea. Occasionally, a corneal ulcer may form and become infected. Surgery may be required to correct entropion if it’s posing a risk to the health of your eye or is leading to considerable discomfort. This is carried out under local anesthetic.
If you have entropion, you should discuss the treatment options with the doctor. Consult the doctor immediately if the eye becomes much painful and red and the vision is affected.
Yellow plaques on the eyelids
Flat yellow patches (plaques) over the upper or lower eyelids are known as Xanthelasma.
Although these plaques are much harmless, they indicate you have high cholesterol. See the doctor as you may be at risk of developing cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and the strokes.
Making changes to the diet and taking medication may be recommended to reduce your cholesterol level and reduce your risk of serious problems in the future, although these may not improve the plaques.
If you’re bothered by the appearance of the plaques, it can be possible for them to be surgically removed or even treated with a laser.
Swollen Upper Eyelid Pain When Blinking
Itchy and flaky eyelids are normally brought about by an inflamed eyelid edge (blepharitis) or even dry eye. Your eyelids may also stick together and be difficult to open, particularly when you wake up.
These conditions may be irritating, but are not very serious. You can reduce the irritation by keeping the eyelids clean and using artificial tears if the eyes are dry.
Contact dermatitis is also another possible cause of itchy or flaky eyelids. This is a type of eczema triggered when the skin comes into contact with something that you are irritated by or allergic to, such as make-up. The condition normally clears up after you stop using the substance the skin is reacting to.
Sticky eyelids along with the red and watering eyes can be brought about by conjunctivitis, which is when an infection, allergy or even irritant causes the front of the eye to become inflamed. This can get better on its own, although the doctor can be able to prescribe medication so as to treat the underlying cause of the swollen upper eyelid.
Excessive blinking or uncontrollable closure of the eyelids
It’s very common and normal for the eyelid to flicker or twitch occasionally, especially when you’re tired.
It’s more unusual to have the repeated spasms of the excessive blinking and involuntary closure of one or both eyes. This is a type of dystonia (a movement disorder that leads to muscle spasms and contractions) known as blepharospasm. Each spasm can last for very few seconds to a few minutes.
The exact cause of the blepharospasm is unknown. However, the blinking and closure may be triggered by bright light, stress or even tiredness.
Severe blepharospasm may be very disabling and embarrassing. However, an effective treatment is also available. It involves having the small injections of botulinum toxin (such as Botox) into the face to relax the muscles controlling the eyelids.
In some other cases, the doctor may consider referring you to a neurologist (a specialist in conditions affecting the brain and nerves) for further investigation.
Swollen Upper Eyelid No Pain
Just like anywhere else on the skin, painless lumps can happen on or around the eyelids. Many lumps are simple cysts or styes (see above).
However, occasionally a lump or a swollen upper eyelid may be a sign of a more serious condition such as skin cancer and may be required to be removed.
See the doctor if you’re worried about a lump on or around your eyelids.
Most of the skin cancers are basal cell carcinomas, which very rarely spread to other parts of the body. These usually appear as a red or pink lump containing small blood vessels, although they can be pearly-white or “waxy” looking. Sometimes they may bleed.
Less commonly, the lump may be a squamous cell carcinoma, which is more serious as there’s a small risk it could spread to other parts of the body. These usually look like an ulcer with a red base and a scaly and a crusted surface. You may also lose eyelashes where the lump is growing.
In rare cases, the lump could be a sign of a very serious type of skin cancer known as melanoma that may spread to other parts of the body and may be more dangerous. A lump is more likely to be melanoma if it’s an irregular shape, dark or changing in color, and getting a lot bigger over time.
Swollen Upper Eyelid Treatments
In case of an allergy being the cause of the swelling, mild steroids drops, antihistamine eye drops and artificial tears are usually prescribed by the optometrist.
Swelling of eyelids caused by viruses and infections is treated with antibiotics, antiviral eye drops and anti-inflammatory ointments
Swollen Upper Eyelid Home Remedies
Home remedies may also be used for treating mild instances of the eyelid swelling. Refraining from rubbing of the affected eye, not wearing contact lenses until the swelling subsides and applying a cold compress over the swollen eyelid are some of the home remedies that you can use for this purpose.
To start with a warm compress, follow the steps:
1. Wash hands thoroughly so as to prevent any bacteria from transferring to the already infected eye.
2. Take a clean washcloth and fold it into quarters.
3. Use a small bowl and fill with warm (preferably filtered) tap water
4. Take the washcloth and submerge in the water
5. Apply the hot washcloth to the eye area with your eye closed in 5 minute intervals. This may relieve some pain and pressure, and help the body release the infection.
6. Do not just rinse out the washcloth, but run it through the laundry at a hot temperature to wash out to prevent further infection.
If the swollen upper eyelid do not respond to any of the conventional treatment methods and starts to worsen then it is best to see the eye doctor immediately.
Wearing of the protective sunglasses may help you in preventing eye injuries which are among the common causes of eyelid swelling. For instance, making use of sunglasses made of polycarbonate is a good way of protecting the eyes. Other tips that you can follow for preventing swollen eyelids include:
- Reduce the intake of caffeine, alcohol and sodium
- Drink water as much as possible, rest as much as you can and increase your intake of vitamins
- Get yourself tested for allergies and then stay away from the allergens and eye irritants that might trigger an allergic reaction like tea bags, cucumber and hemorrhoid cream.
- Don’t make use of eye drops that have preservatives present in them.
- Always your perfume-free and hypoallergenic make-up items to minimize the chance of an allergic reaction.
- Eyelid problems: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/eyelid-problems/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Swollen Eyelids: Causes and Treatment: http://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/swollen-eyelids.htm