Swollen eyelids are a painful giveaway that something is wrong. As eye care specialists, we see and treat a lot of patients who come complaining of sudden eyelid swelling — none so far for a broken heart.
The swollen eyelids in our office have little to do with cheatin’ hearts and are more often caused by allergies, injuries, or viruses. We can only sympathize with a broken heart, but swollen eyelid treatment is right up our alley!
4 Common Causes for Eyelid Swelling
We’ve noticed four major causes for a swollen eyelid.
We’ve treated our share of professional athletes and know that injuries can damage any part of the eye. Eye injury isn’t limited to athletes, either: it’s a real hazard for construction workers, materials movers, welders, mechanics, janitors, plumbers, electricians — anyone who works with materials that can reach an eye.
Like any other body part, the area around the eye, including the eyelid, will swell if any part of the eye has been hit, poked, scratched, burned, or invaded by a foreign object. These are, in fact, the five most common causes of eye injury.
Those of us of a certain age remember the Gilda Radner character Lisa Loopner, the ultimate girl nerd famous for her allergies and sniffles. A drippy nose is bad enough but swollen eyelids from allergies can actually be pretty uncomfortable.
When allergens reach the eyes, they dissolve into reflex tears (one of three kinds of tears the eyes produce), which triggers antibodies in the cells inside the eyes. The antibodies release histamine, which triggers itching tearing, sneezing, and watery nasal discharge.
These red bumps that appear on eyelids, most often in children, come from bacteria and inflammation of one or more meibomian glands, which produce oil. When they are blocked by bacteria, the eyelids react and swell, often painfully.
Also called pinkeye, is what happens when the conjunctiva — the clear lining over the eyeball surface — becomes inflamed, usually by a virus. It’s contagious and common among children.
Swollen Eyelid Treatment Ranges From Home Remedies to Medication
Swollen eyelids can easily become painful, so don’t ignore them if they last more than a couple of hours. If you wear contact lenses, take them out.
Any injury to the eye should be assessed by medical personnel for interior damage.
- If the injury was caused by an impact (a baseball, a punch or poke, or flying debris), put ice on it immediately.
- If there has been a chemical splash or an irritant entered the eye, flush it out with saline if available. Virtually all worksites have eye flushing stations.
There are plenty of home remedies for swollen eyelids that aren’t the result of an injury. They include cold compresses and artificial tears for conjunctivitis and allergies. Allergies can also be treated with allergy eye drops and over the counter medication that will stop the swelling and tearing.
Styes can be relieved with warm compresses. They can take a week or two to completely clear up. Be sure to prevent spreading the infection or reinfection while you’re treating pinkeye or styes:
- Replace or completely disinfect contact lenses.
- Throw out eye makeup.
- Frequently wash and replace towels, face washcloths, and pillowcases.
If your allergies are caused by pollen, try to reduce your time outdoors until the pollen count drops.
Did you know that there are special tears for crying? They’re called emotional tears. Home remedies for swollen eyelids caused by crying include cold compresses and chilled face cream, laying spoons on the eyelids, and eating chocolate.