Help and frequently asked questions

What are the causes for eyelid problems?


The eyelid is an important part of your eye as it can help to protect your eyes from dust, debris and trauma. Here are some of the common issues that may affect your eyelid.

What is a naevus?

This is a benign pigmented growth that may crop up on your eyelid. It is similar to a mole and can either be congenital, there since birth or develop over time. Most acquired naevi develop between the ages of five and 15 years old and do not cause problems during later life. They are painless and can be either flat or elevated. As there is a slight chance that they can develop into a melanoma, it is important to have these checked by an optometrist regularly. If you have a naevus and it changes colour, size or shape, it is essential to have it examined by a doctor. This is important if it is not symmetrical as this is a warning sign that it could be a melanoma. If it itches or bleeds, you should also have it examined, as you would any other mole.

What is blepharitis?

This condition affects the edges of the eyelids. It is usually caused by an excess growth of the bacteria normally found on the skin. This can block the eyelid's oil glands. You may feel like your eyes are burning, dry or like something is stuck in your eye. Some people feel sensitive to light. You may also notice blurry vision and that your eyelids or eyes are red and swollen.Your eyelids may also look inflamed, greasy and may become sticky with discharge. Many people with this condition find their eyelids are stuck together in the morning.

What is the treatment for blepharitis?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for blepharitis. However, you can manage the symptoms by maintaining eyelid hygiene.Use a warm washcloth or flannel and place it over your closed eyes for a few minutes. This will help to soften those crusts and loosen oily debris. Massaging your eyes can also help to push the oily fluid from the meibomian glands. Make sure your hands are clean and that your eyes remain closed during massage. Then you should clean your eyelids. Many people find this is most easily achieved by using a cotton wool bud dipped in baby shampoo diluted in water. If the eyelid becomes infected, seek medical help as you may require antibiotic ointment or drops.

What is dry eye?

If your eyes do not produce enough tears, you may develop dry eyes. Symptoms include a gritty feeling, itching and occasional blurred vision. Your eyes may feel heavy or tired, and you may want to close them. You may also find mucus around the eyelids, especially when you wake up in the morning. This can make it hard to open your eyelids.

How is dry eye treated?

As this is the result of a lack of tears, symptoms can often be managed by making a conscious effort to blink more often, particularly when you are at the computer. You might also get relief from using eye drops, ointments or gels to lubricate the eye. These can be used before bed to minimise the chances of waking up with sore eyelids. Make sure the eye dropper is clean and that it does not touch your eye, eyelid eyelashes or surface of your eye as it could pick up bacteria. In severe cases, surgery is another option to treat this condition. If these methods do not alleviate your symptoms, consult your optometrist for advice.

What is ptosis?

If you have a drooping eyelid it is called ptosis. This normally only refers to the top lid, not the bottom.It can be caused by weakness in the eye muscles that raise your eyelid, damage to the nerves of that muscle or loose upper eyelids. Symptoms can affect one or both eyes, so it may look like one is taking longer to close than the other. Ptosis can affect your vision if it is severe. In this case you may require an eyelid lift surgery or blepharoplasty. If you develop a drooping eyelid or notice one in you child, consult your optometrist to have a referral to an ophthalmologist.

Why does one eyelid slant down slightly?

Sometimes an anatomical difference means the lid position of your eyes may not line up properly. One eyelid may be lower than the other.If it is not causing visual problems, it it nothing to worry about.

Why is one eyelid larger than the other?

While this could be nothing more than a simple anatomical problem or a weak muscle in the area elevating the eyelid, for some people this could indicate a thyroid problem. It could be worth getting this checked by your GP.

Why are the veins near my eyelids prominent?

If you have pale skin, your veins may be more visible. These are the blood vessels around your eyes. Unless you have redness, burning or irritation, there is nothing to worry about. These symptoms could indicate rosacea, which you should have examined by your GP.

What is a chalazion?

This is a lump in the upper or lower eyelid. It is the result of inflammation of the oil gland in the eyelid. It will not cause permanent changes in your vision and usually goes away after using hot compresses. If you are in pain or it has not cleared within a week, consult your optometrist.