Common causes of swollen eyes

Swollen eyes can be caused by a number of things including, but not limited to:

Injury to the eye or surrounding area for example following a fall or blow to the eye in sport can cause inflammation and swelling of the eyelids.

Conjunctivitis also known as "pink eye", this affects the surface of the eye, but can also cause inflammed and swollen eyelids.

Eye allergies are caused when the body reacts to certain substances called allergens. These includes things like dust, pet fur, pollen, certain eye drops or contact lens solutions, as well as some types of make-up.

Styes although they’re usually just a small, tender bump on the edge of your eyelid, it can cause the whole eyelid to swell too.

A chalazion is a hard cyst that develops on the eyelid. It’s often confused with a stye and can cause the same tenderness and eyelid swelling.

Symptoms of swollen eyes

Depending on the underlying cause, you may also experience:

  • Eye irritation, such as an itchy or scratchy sensation
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Watery eyes 
  • Obstructed vision (depending on the extent of the swelling)
  • Redness of the eyelid
  • Eyelid dryness or flaking
  • Tenderness, particularly when swollen eyelids are caused by infection

How to treat swollen eyes

Your doctor or optician will be able to advise on the right kind of treatment for you, but there are a few things you can try if you think it may be allergy-related:

  • Wash your face with clean water
  • Use eye drops to clear the eyes and help calm down any itchiness
  • Apply a cold compress like a damp flannel over your eyes to reduce irritation or swelling

But if you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek advice from your doctor as soon as possible:

  • Further eyelid swelling
  • Blurry or decreased vision
  • Pain in or around your eye
  • Feeling as if there’s something stuck in your eye


Can I prevent swollen eyes?

Depending on the cause of the swollen eyes, some measures can be taken to prevent them. Ask your doctor for advice.

Will contact lenses cause swollen eyes?

Swollen eyelids might be associated with certain eye infections caused by improper contact lens care, like wearing them while you swim, wearing dirty contacts, or storing them in a dirty lens case.

Read more

Can pollen cause swollen eyes?

If you have an allergy to pollen (hay fever), symptoms can include swollen, red, itchy and uncomfortable eyes.

Did you know?

Specsavers Ópticas stores provide a range of additional eye care services to help maintain the health of your eyes. Rather than booking an appointment online, contact your local store for more information and to arrange an eye health clinic appointment.