What is eye swelling?

Swelling around the eyes is a common symptom of allergy, infection, inflammation, or even physical irritation. The medical term for swelling involving the skin around the eyes is periorbital edema. Chemosis is the term used to describe swelling of the outer coats of the eyeball (common with eye allergies). Eye swelling results from excess fluid (edema) escaping from inflamed blood vessels into the soft tissues surrounding the eyes. It may occur in conditions affecting the eye area itself or in association with more generalized conditions, such as colds or hay fever.

Inflammation of the surface of the eye (conjunctivitis) and inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis) are common causes of swollen eyes. Other common causes include crying, lack of sleep, or excessive rubbing of the eyes. Wearing contact lenses can also result in eye swelling. Depending on the cause, swelling may occur in one or both eyes, and it may be accompanied by redness, pain, itching, excessive tear production, or other types of discharge from the affected eyes.

Allergic reactions can lead to swelling of both eyes and, sometimes, of the entire face, especially in severe cases such as anaphylactic reactions. In rare cases, eye swelling is a symptom of serious infections of the soft tissues around or behind the eye, such as orbital cellulitis. The thyroid condition known as Graves’ disease may be accompanied by swelling of the conjunctiva (chemosis) in addition to bulging eyes (proptosis). Injuries or trauma to the eyes, including corneal abrasions, orbital bone fracture, and foreign bodies in the eye, can all lead to swelling.

Eye swelling can be a sign of a serious condition.Seek prompt medical care if eye swelling is persistent or causes you concern. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you experience eye swelling along with facial swelling, difficulty breathing, or fever, or if you experience eye swelling as a result of head injury or trauma. Other symptomsthat require immediate medical care include swelling around the eye with fever, chills, pus, or redness around the eye. These are symptoms of orbital cellulitis, which, left untreated, can rapidly lead to serious complications, such as meningitis or a blood infection.


What other symptoms might occur with eye swelling?

Eye swelling may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the eyes may also involve other body systems.

Eye symptoms that may occur along with eye swelling

Eye swelling may accompany other symptoms affecting the eye area including:


What causes eye swelling?

Eye swelling results from excess fluid in the soft tissues surrounding the eye. Allergic reactions are a common cause of eye swelling. Such reactions may be caused by pollen (hay fever), animal dander, foods, or medicines.

Infections that cause inflammation of the eyelids or the conjunctiva (surface)... Read more about eye swellingcauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Eyes and Vision

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