Puffy Eyelids – Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

In this article you will get information about why your eyelids get puffy how the treatment looks like and what symptoms an ophthalmologist is looking for. In some cases, treatment with home remedies is also sufficient.

This article is not a substitute for visiting an eye care professional. Only he can diagnose the real cause.

Puffy eyelids can be very uncomfortable, cause foreign body sensations and irritation to the eyes and in some cases even affect vision. In some cases your eye care specialist will spot a clogged gland but in others It might be an allergic reaction causing the swollen eyelids.

Therefore, it is important to find out why you have puffy eyelids. Only with the correct diagnose from a eye care professional you will know if just little time needs to pass until the swelling goes away or if medications need to be applied.

These Symptoms Accompany Puffy Eyelids

Puffy eyelids may affect only one or both eyes. The symptoms are strongly dependent on the cause and can range from feeling nothing just visible swollen eyelids to foreign body sensation and pain. Typical symptoms of puffy eyelids are:

  • Itching
  • Scratchy feeling
  • Irritated skin and eyes
  • Teary eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Loss in visual acuity
  • Redness of the eyelid
  • Redness of the eye
  • Dry skin on the eye llids
  • Pain

It is not recommended to wait a few days before you see an eye doctor. It is better to take action earlier and make an appointment. In combination there are a few things you should do that may influence your puffy eye lids.

When you tend to use your cleaning and rinsing solution as your eye drops stop that. This could lead to allergic reactions depending on the ingredients and your eyes. When your eyelids get puffy you do no know how puffy they will get in the next minutes and hours. So take out your contact lenses and switch to wearing glasses. When the eyelids get more puffy it might be harder to get the contact out afterward.

Possible Causes of Puffy Eyelids

There are a lot of reasons why your eyelids swell up. Here in the paragraphs below you will find the most common ones:

A Clogged Gland

In your upper and eyelids are meibomian glands located. They produce lipids that are an ingredient of the fluid on your eye and make it more stable. This way your eyes do not dry up as fast. But in some cases when the glands outlet is clogged the gland still produces lipids. This leads to an accumulation of secrets in the gland which leads to visible swelling of your eyelids. Usually only small part of your eye lid feels puffy when a gland is clogged.

Irritation Due to the Wrong Contact Lenses

Contact lenses could be the reason why your eyelids are swollen. When the contact lens material does not work well for you increased friction could lead to irritation of your eyelids with inflammation or even swelling as a cause. But it is in some cases not only the material of the lens. In some cases, it is a lens care product that is not compatible with your eye tear film. In such a case an allergic reaction leads to swelling. How this works will be explained in the next paragraph.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions and the swelling of the eyelids caused by them can come from environmental factors like a plant near you but also from the contact lenses or the care products you use. In the solutions you use for contact lens cleaning oftentimes preserving agents are used that could cause your eye lids to swell up. When the actual lens cleaning solution did not cause the symptoms the debris on your contact lens could be the cause.

Oftentimes a mixture of proteins and lipids accumulate on your contact lens surface over time. When the proteins change due to chemical or thermal influence the eye initiates an immune response also known as an allergic reaction. Changing the lens material of switching to daily contacts could cause this issue as less debris accumulates on them. Other possible causes for allergic reactions are:

  • Make up
  • Dust
  • Pet hair

Eye Infections

Eye infections are also known for causing swollen eyelids. In the paragraphs before a clogged gland was mentioned. When this meibomian gland is clogged for too long oftentimes inflammation sets in. While this gland sits directly in the middle of the upper and lower eyelid a swelling when inflammation is present is a logical symptom. When the eyelids become really puffy the eyelid skin becomes flaky and the eyelashes fall out.

But also the eye itself could show an inflammation. In such a case the white part of the eye turns red. This is a conjunctivitis and it should be treated by your ophthalmologist.

Eye Injuries

Injuries of course lead to a swelling of the eye. The classic black eye can last for a couple of weeks until the eyelids go back to normal.

Diseases as a Cause of Swollen Eyelids

The eyes are oftentimes affected by systematic diseases of the body. Thus, a general disease could also cause the accompanying symptom of swollen eyelids.


Herpes can be one of the leases leading to swollen eyelids. Those reoccurring symptoms can be more or less severe. A critical review of the differential diagnosis and use of laboratory tests are helpful.

Graves’ disease

Hyperthyroidism can cause swollen eyes as well as fluctuations in the refractions and in severe cases diplopia. Due to the swollen eyes the person with Graves’ disease can be more sensitive to puffy eye lids.

Orbital cellulitis

 It is most commonly caused by an acute spread of infection into the eye socket and needs to be treated immediately by an ophthalmologist. Otherwise a permanent loss in vision is possible.

What Helps Against Puffy Eyelids?

Pay attention to the bulet points when your eye lids start to feel swollen:

Without knowing the cause diagnosed by your ophthalmologist or optometrist no actions can be recommended. Warm or cold compresses may not be the best idea when you do not know if they might help or not.

How the Treatment of Puffy Eyelids Looks Like

Depending on the cause the following medication could be used to treat the symptoms and the underlying cause.

  • Allergy medications
  • Eye drops
  • Ointment
  • Warm or cold compresses
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Antibiotics

As you can see there are a variety of causes why puffy eyelids appear. It is best to make an appointment with your ophthalmologist when you see or feel the first symptoms to the the right treatment.

I wish you a great day.

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