Help and frequently asked questions

What are the causes of a swollen eyelid?


A swollen eyelid can be annoying to deal with, but in most cases it doesn't require any serious treatment. However, there are some situations when a swollen eyelid will require more immediate attention.


A swollen eyelid will have several physical symptoms. You may notice your eyes feeling irritated, itchy or scratchy and your tear production may be more excessive than normal. If your eyelid has swollen significantly it may restrict your field of vision slightly, and you may also notice a redness of the upper, lower or both eyelids. The eye itself may appear to be red, and discharge may be produced. Sometimes the eyelid will become dry and flaky, or you might feel pain in the affected area. This is typical if the cause is related to an infection of the eye.


There are several reasons why you might have a swollen or puffy eye. Allergies are one of the most common causes, as you can be allergic to anything from pollen and dust to eye drops and contact lens solutions.

  • Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the clear lining covering the front of the eye, and it can also cause swollen, red or irritated eyelids. Conjunctivitis can be caused by allergies, or a bacterial, or viral infection of the eye.
  • A stye is a swollen bump at the edge of an eyelid caused by infection of an oil-producing gland called the meibomian gland. This can cause the eyelid to feel tender as well as swollen.
  • Chalazions are caused by the same gland blockage, but they take the form of hard sebaceous cysts located away from the edge of the eyelid.

Swollen eyelids can also be a symptom of improper contact lens wear, trauma to the eye area, blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid), ocular herpes or orbital cellulitis. This last condition occurs rarely and stems from bacterial infection of the tissues around the eye, but it requires urgent medical attention.If you have swollen eyelids or eye area, see your optometrist for advice.