Puffy eyes – also referred to as periorbital puffiness – is a common condition that causes swelling in the thin, sensitive skin tissue in the lids protecting the eyes. Basic home care treatment programs are normally sufficient to overcome the problem. Puffy eyes can also be symptomatic of underlying eye conditions that may require closer examination by an eyecare professional.

What Leads to Puffy Eyes?

Fluid retention can cause swollen eyes, but for many of us a degree of eye puffiness may be normal, due to age and fatigue factors. Over-activity of the glands in the eyelids that produce tears can result in puffy eyes. Stress, hormone imbalance, and allergies are other common factors contributing towards swollen eyelids. Sleep deprivation, or too little ‘shut eye’, and excessive alcohol intake are known to cause puffy eyes too.

Attendant Issues Associated with Puffy Eyes

Without wanting to cause undue alarm, any of the following can add to the puffy eye syndrome:

  • Styes
  • Allergies
  • Aging factors
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Dietary issues
  • Infections of the eye
  • Unsuitable contact lenses
  • Dysfunctional tear glands
  • Dermatitis and other skin disorders

Eye puffiness can also result from the onset of more technical medical conditions, for example:

  • Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid
  • Nephritic syndrome – puffy eyes may provide the first indication of kidney disease
  • Blepharitis – inflammation of the eyelids, which become red, irritated and itchy with dandruff-like scales on the eyelashes

Other Symptoms Linked to Swollen Eyes

Other symptoms that may be present with swollen eyes include:

Ø Difficulty seeing; double vision; vision changes
Ø Redness on or around the eye
Ø Feeling of ‘foreign body’ in eye
Ø Itching or burning sensation
Ø Eye discharge
Ø Blurred vision
Ø Discomfort
Ø Eye pain

Serious symptoms include facial and/or swelling of the neck, fever, headaches, nausea, chills, and breathing difficulties. These require immediate medical attention.

Treatments and Home Remedies for Puffy Eyes

In the case of normal puffy eyes, meaning swelling not caused by other eye conditions, there are several ways to reduce the puffiness. Washing your face in clear cold water, and sloshing water into the eyes with eyelids open offers immediate relief. You can follow this with ice or cold packs held against the swollen area with your eyes closed. Try reducing or limiting sodium levels while increasing vitamin intake, especially A, C and E.

Read: Healthy Foods for Healthy Eyes

A low-carb diet helps reduce the risk of eye puffiness by preventing water retention. Drink lots of water to assist in purging your system. Use an extra pillow to elevate your head during sleep as this helps prevent the gravitational redistribution of fluid that is associated with eye swelling. If your puffy eyes are the result of allergies, identify and discontinue using the item that causes the allergic reaction. Ask your doctor or optometrist to prescribe medication to reverse the swelling.

Seek Advice from an Expert

Regardless of eye puffiness, each one of us should undergo a routine eye check every year. This should be more frequent if eye puffiness persists. Our eyes are one of our most valuable gifts and it follows that we should look after them!

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