What is eyelid pain?

Eyelid pain is soreness or pain of the eyelids that cover and protect the eye. The outside of your eyelids consists of thin skin, and the inside is lined with conjunctiva, a membrane that also covers the white of the eye. Because the conjunctiva is well supplied with blood vessels, it can easily become inflamed, resulting in swelling and pain. The margins of the eyelids contain the eyelashes and their hair follicles, as well as numerous small oil glands that help lubricate the surface of the eye. Blockages or infections within the follicles or oil glands are other causes of eyelid pain.

Wherever there is pain there is inflammation. Anything that quiets the inflammation will also relieve the pain.

Allergies and environmental factors can cause inflammation and pain in the eyelids. The inciting factor may be an airborne allergen, such as pollen or animal dander, or it may be a physical irritant, such as smoke, smog or dust. Eye makeup and other cosmetics, personal care products such as soap and shampoo, and contact lenses can also cause eyelid pain. Physical injuries, including burns, sunburn, insect bites, and lacerations, also result in eyelid pain.

Eyelid pain may also develop because of an infection of the conjunctiva or structures in the eyelid margin. Blepharitis is a bacterial infection of the eyelid margin that originates at the base of the eyelashes. People who  develop a hordeolum (stye) typically report exquisite pain in the area of the affected eyelashes days before any bump appeared.

Eyelid pain from allergies can usually be managed with cold compresses on the affected eye area and over-the-counter allergy medications. Styes and blepharitis are generally treated with warm, damp compresses, lid scrubs, and, if needed, antibiotic ointments. In some cases, eyelids that feel tight, swollen and painful can signal a serious infection called orbital cellulitis, which is a medical emergency. Because your eyes are so important to the quality of your life, it is always a good idea to contact your health care provider for any bothersome eye symptoms.

Although eyelid pain is generally not serious, in some cases it can be a symptom of a serious, even life-threatening infection called orbital cellulitis. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have swollen, red or purple painful eyelids; pain when moving your eyes; or high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit).

Seek prompt medical care if you have eyelid pain that is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern.


What other symptoms might occur with eyelid pain?

Eyelid pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition.

Ocular symptoms that may occur along with eyelid pain

Eyelid pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the ocular system including:


What causes eyelid pain?

Eyelid pain is caused by an inflammation of the eyelids that cover and protect the eye. Pain in the eyelids usually originates in the conjunctiva, the membrane that lines the inside of the eyelids and covers the white of the eye, or in the oil glands and hair follicles at the base of the eyelashes. Allergies, infections, reactions to cosmetics and personal care products, and environmental facto... Read more about eyelid paincauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 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

Popular Eyes and Vision Slide Show