What causes eyelid pain? What conditions does it indicate? Is it a serious situation? When should you see a doctor? You can find the answers to all these questions and much more below.
What is eyelid pain?
Eyelid pain is pain or soreness of the eyelids that cover and protect the eye. The outside of your eyelids is made up of thin skin and the inside is covered by the conjunctiva , a membrane that also covers the white of the eye . Because the conjunctiva is supplied with blood vessels, it can become easily inflamed, causing swelling and pain. Along the edges of the eyelids are eyelashes and eyelash roots, as well as numerous small sebaceous glands that help lubricate the surface of the eye. Blockages or infections within the follicles or sebaceous glands are among the causes of pain in your eyelids.
Allergies and environmental factors can cause inflammation and pain in the eyelids. The trigger may be an airborne allergen such as pollen or animal dander, or it may be a physical irritant such as smoke and dust. Eye makeup and other cosmetics, personal care products such as soap and shampoo, and contact lenses can also cause eyelid pain. Physical injuries such as burns, sunburn, insect bites, and lacerations also cause eyelid pain.
Eyelid pain may also develop due to infection of the conjunctiva or structures at the edge of the eyelid. Blepharitis is a bacterial infection of the eyelid margin that originates at the base of the eyelashes. People who develop styes typically report severe pain in the area of the affected eyelashes, days before any lumps appear.
Eyelid pain from allergies can usually be managed with cold compresses and over-the-counter allergy medications on the affected eye area. Styes and blepharitis are usually treated with warm, moist compresses, eyelid scrubs, and antibiotic ointments if needed. In some cases, tight, swollen and painful eyelids may indicate a serious infection called orbital cellulitis , which is a medical emergency . Because your eyes are so important to your quality of life, it’s always a good idea to see your doctor for any bothersome eye symptoms.
While pain in the eyelids is not usually serious, in some cases it can be a sign of a serious, even life-threatening infection called orbital cellulitis. It is recommended to seek medical help if you or someone you are with has bothersome symptoms (eyelid swelling, eyelid and eye discoloration, pain, etc.). Seeing a doctor is also recommended for persistent, recurrent, or worrying eye or eyelid pain.
What causes eyelid pain?
Eyelid pain is caused by inflammation of the eyelids that cover and protect the eye. Pain in the eyelids is usually caused by the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the inside of the eyelids and covers the whites of the eye, or the oil glands and hair follicles at the base of the eyelashes. Allergies, infections, reactions to cosmetics and personal care products, and environmental factors such as smoke or gas are common causes of eyelid pain. Physical injuries such as sunburn, insect bites, and lacerations also cause pain in the eyelids.
Eyelid pain can also be a symptom of a more serious eye condition. Infections in the eye area can threaten your vision. For example, orbital cellulitis is a serious bacterial infection of the eyelids and soft tissues in the eye area.
Ocular causes of eyelid pain
Ocular causes of eyelid pain include:
- Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margin)
- orbital inflammatory disease
- Preorbital (preseptal) cellulitis
- Stye or hordeolum (regional bacterial infection of a sebaceous gland or eyelash follicle at the edge of the eyelid)
Environmental causes of eyelid pain
Pain in the eyelids can also be caused by irritants you may encounter in your living environment, including:
- Airborne pollutants such as smoke or gas
- Food allergies (allergic reaction to certain foods)
- Hay fever or allergic reaction from pet dander, dust, cosmetics, or pollen
Serious or life-threatening causes of eyelid pain
In some cases, eyelid pain is caused by serious conditions, including:
- Orbital cellulitis (a bacterial infection of the skin and soft tissues surrounding the eye)
- Any blow to the eye
Questions to diagnose the cause of eyelid pain
To diagnose your condition, your doctor will ask you a few questions about your eyelid pain, including:
- How long have you had eyelid pain?
- Do you have other symptoms such as dry eyes or watery eyes?
- Where do you feel the most pain in your eyelid?
- Have you experienced any vision changes?
What other symptoms can occur with eyelid pain?
Eyelid pain may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder, or condition.
Ocular symptoms that may occur with eyelid pain
Eyelid pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the ocular system:
- Blurred or double vision
- swelling of the eye (proptosis)
- discharge from the eye
- dry eye
- Eye pain
- increased sensitivity to light
- itchy eye
- eye bleeding
- Redness, warmth, or swelling of the eyelids
- eye watering
Other symptoms that may occur along with eyelid pain
Pain in the eyelids may accompany symptoms related to other body systems, including:
- High fever
- runny nose
- nasal congestion
- Throat ache
Serious symptoms that may indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, eyelid pain can be a sign of a serious, even life-threatening, infection called orbital cellulitis. If you or someone you are with has any of the following symptoms, it is recommended to seek immediate medical attention:
- bulging eyes
- discharge from the eye
- Eye pain (especially when moving the eyes)
- High fever
- vision loss or vision changes
- stiff neck
- swollen red or purple eyelids
What are the possible complications of eyelid pain?
In most cases, pain in the eyelids is not a serious symptom. But if left untreated, even mild infections around the eyes can lead to more serious infections and serious complications. Once the underlying cause has been diagnosed, it’s important to follow the treatment plan to avoid potential complications.
Possible complications associated with eyelid pain include:
- Chronic eye condition or pain
- vision changes
- vision loss or blindness