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5 Reasons Eyelids Hurt: Causes and Treatment of Eyelid Soreness

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The stinging, ache and irritation of eyelid pain can distract you from enjoying your day, and from getting adequate rest at night – which adds to your discomfort. Researching the potential causes of eyelid pain and how it’s treated is a good place to start, but if irritation, pain, discharge, inflammation and spasms in one or more eyelids persist, it could be a sign of a serious condition. Whenever you have a change in your vision or eyes, consult your eye doctor to diagnose the condition.

Eyelid soreness may be caused by infection

A bacterial or viral infection can be dangerous to your eyes. Peri-orbital cellulitis is an infection surrounding the eye (“pre-ceptal cellulitis”) or behind the eye (“orbital cellulitis”) and often involves the eyelid or muscles surrounding the eye.

Often, symptoms escalate quickly and this condition requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated, orbital cellulitis will damage the optic nerve and cause loss of vision, hearing loss or cause a blood clot to form at the base of the brain. Peri-Orbital cellulitis may require a hospital stay and oral or intravenous antibiotics to treat it. In some instances, surgery is required to reduce the swelling around the eyelid.

Symptoms of peri-orbital cellulitis

  • Painful swelling of upper and/or lower eyelid
  • Possible swelling around the eye, including the eyebrow and cheek
  • Limited vision

An eye care professional must determine whether the infection is orbital cellulitis or pre-ceptal cellulitis, and direct the appropriate treatment plan.

Eyelid soreness may be caused by allergies

Many of us have experienced seasonal and environmental allergies, which are a common cause of eyelid discomfort. The symptoms occur when you’re exposed to allergens that interact with your immune system and cause eyelid irritation. Common allergens include:

  • Pollen
  • Animal dander
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Smoke

To avoid soreness and discomfort, simply avoid the allergens. But, if you’re not able to avoid them altogether, you can also take antihistamines or decongestants help minimize allergy symptoms.

Eyelid soreness may be caused by inflammation

Blepharitis is an eyelid inflammation around the base of the eyelashes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes blepharitis symptoms as eyelids that are “… red, swollen or feel like they are burning.”  Blepharitis can contribute to, or exacerbate dry eye problems.

Remedies include warm eyelid compresses and eyelid scrubs to get rid of excess oil and germs on the eyelid that could lead to the inflammation. In chronic cases, your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Conjunctivitis: causes and symptoms

Another inflammatory condition that could lead to eyelid soreness is conjunctivitis. This is an inflammation of the lining of the eyeball and/or eyelids, which often results in eyelid swelling and pain. Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria or viruses (often referred to as “pink eye”), allergies, eye irritants, or systemic causes of inflammation.

Common symptoms include a yellow or green discharge from the eye that causes the eyelids to stick together during sleep. The eye and eyelid feel irritated and sometimes gritty. If the condition is caused by a virus, it is highly contagious.

Conjunctivitis treatments

The condition often clears up on its own, but the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests seeing a doctor immediately if you have:

  • Moderate to severe pain in your eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision
  • Intense redness in the affected eye
  • A weakened immune system, and are under treatment for cancer or HIV
  • A pre-existing eye condition
  • Symptoms that are getting worse

Your eye doctor may give you oral antibiotics, antibiotic eye drops or allergy medicine to treat conjunctivitis. If the symptoms don’t improve within 24 hours of beginning antibiotic treatment, the CDC recommends contacting your doctor.

Eyelid soreness may be caused by a sty

A sty is a focal inflammation causing a lump in the eyelid, often near the eyelashes. It can be caused by a blocked oil duct that gets infected by bacteria, becomes inflamed, and is painful. This bump at the edge of your eyelid usually lasts a few days, then it bursts and usually heals on its own. Some sties require medical care.

A chalazion is caused by a blocked oil gland in the eyelid, and usually develops on the back of the eyelid.  In the case of a chalazion, the pain fades but the bump does not. Medical intervention may be required if the pimple doesn’t rupture on its own – especially if it’s on the inside of the eyelid.

Sties and chalazia are not dangerous and usually don’t affect eyesight. However, in some cases, an infection can develop around a sty or chalazion, and this requires treatment with antibiotics. To diagnose eye infections, it is always best to contact an eye doctor.

Usually, a warm compress applied several times a day at home can help the condition improve; if it doesn’t, your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotics or minor surgical intervention.

Eyelid soreness may be caused by dry eyes

Although this eye condition affects the eyeball, some individuals with dry eyes might have eyelids that feel heavy and irritated.

It’s not surprising that the causes of dry eye have to do with the moisture content of the eyes. Maybe there are too few tears, an imbalance of nutrients in the tears so they don’t moisturize the eyeball properly, or tears evaporate too rapidly. Some of the remedies include lubricating eye drops or gels, the use of a humidifier and taking breaks from a computer screen.

As with any health condition, if irritated eyelids persist due to dry eyes, it’s important to contact an eye doctor. If you’re searching for an eye doctor to help you maintain the health of your eyes, contact Barnet Dulaney Perkins for a consultation today.

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