Why are my eyes puffy?

No-one enjoys waking up with puffy eyes. Now, imagine puffy, sore, inflamed, sticky eyelids. Yikes.

Blepharitis is a condition where there’s inflammation around the base of your eyelashes. It can produce clumping and stickiness around the eyelashes, along with swollen eyelids. This condition usually starts when the tiny glands found near the bottom of the eyelid becomes clogged. This leaves you with irritated and red eyes.

Signs:

  • Watery, red eyes.
  • A burning or stinging feeling in the eyes.
  • Eyelids that appear oily.
  • Red, itchy, swollen eyelids.
  • Flaking of the skin around the eyes.
  • Crusted eyelashes.
  • Eyelid sticking together.
  • More frequent blinking.
  • Sensitivity to light.

There are two types of blepharitis, anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis happens on the outside front edge of the eyelid where your lashes attach to one another. Posterior blepharitis is in the inner edge of the eyelid that touches the eyeball.

What causes blepharitis?

Anterior blepharitis is usually caused by bacteria or dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows. The bacteria can be found on the face and eyelids and if it becomes excessive, an infection may occur. Although it’s uncommon, mite infestation of the eyelids or allergies may also cause anterior blepharitis. Posterior blepharitis happens when the glands of the eyelids make too much oil. This causes an environment that encourages bacterial growth. It can also develop from other skin conditions like rosacea and scalp dandruff.

Treating blepharitis

Blepharitis is a chronic condition and is difficult to treat, but it doesn’t usually cause permanent damage to your eyesight. It can’t be cured, but you can ease the symptoms with good eyelid hygiene. In the case of a bacterial infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Talk to your doctor before doing your own home treatment.

  • Loosen the crusts with a warm compress. Wash your hands thoroughly, then mix warm water with a small amount of baby shampoo or scrub solution. Using a clean cloth, gently scrub your eyelids with the solution by rubbing back and forth across your closed lids. Use a different cloth for each eye. Rinse with clean water.
  • Use antidandruff shampoo on your scalp.
  • Limit or stop using eye make-up during treatment as it makes keeping the eye area clean more difficult.
  • Massage your eyelids to clean out the excess oil if the eyelid glands are blocked.
  • Don’t use contact lenses during treatment.
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Good to know

  • Soaking your eyelids may help. Start by washing your hands thoroughly, then moisten a cloth with warm water. Close your eyes and place a washcloth on your eyelids for about five minutes. Repeat several times a day.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids help your eyes. You can find these substances in oily fish like mackerel, sardines, salmon and tuna. Omega-3 supplements may be helpful, too.
  • Do your best to not touch or rub your eyes. The last thing you want is to cause a second infection! If you suspect that you have blepharitis, talk to your doctor immediately. He may recommend over-the-counter medication, eyedrops, or prescription medication.

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