Your eyelids can get infected and inflamed, and it’s natural to be concerned, but in reality eyelid problems aren’t usually a serious problem.
However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t need treatment, and this is where our doctors can help.
They can take a look at your eyelid, diagnose the condition and recommend effective treatment that’ll help you get better and manage any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing.
There are a number of potential issues you could have with your eyelid. Each looks and feels slightly different, so let’s take a look at the most common issues.
This could be something as simple as an allergy, which can cause itchy, swollen eyelids.
It could also be a meibomian cyst, which is caused when your eyelid glands are blocked. These can be small or large and are often a rather angry red.
You can speed up the healing process of cysts by applying a warm flannel three or four times a day. If a cyst shows no sign of disappearing, a GP can arrange for it to be drained.
The swelling may also be a stye, which is a lump that appears at the base of an eyelash. This is when the base of your eyelash becomes infected and causes a pus filled lump to appear. Like with a cyst, you can use a warm compress to help speed up the healing process and these will not usually need medical attention.
If you notice a lump further away from the eye, it’s best to get this checked out. While usually benign, in rare cases these can be a possible sign of cancer.
Drooping eyelids are often just a natural part of getting older. They’re called ptosis and often don’t cause any problems.
However, there are some situations where treatment may be needed for a droopy eyelid.
For example, if your upper eyelid droops to the point where your vision is affected, a GP may refer you for an operation to deal with the excess skin.
Your lower eyelid can sometimes roll outwards, a condition known as an ectropion. This can affect tear production and lead to dry, red eyes. Drops or ointment will usually be prescribed to manage any discomfort.
If it rolls inwards, it’s known as entropion, and causes your eye to water a lot - you should see a GP for more advice as treatment is generally needed. Sometimes, if complications are a risk, you may need an operation to correct the eyelid.
Itching and flaking
Some eye problems cause a sticky substance to form, which leads to your eyelids sticking together. This may be most obvious in the morning, when you open your eyes for the first time in the day. When this substance dries it can lead to crusty and flaky areas around your eyes.
Often it can be a symptom of conditions such as blepharitis, conjunctivitis or dry eye syndrome, it can also be caused by an allergic reaction.
While this will often get better by itself, having a GP identify the cause will mean they may be able to prescribe medication that’ll treat the condition quicker.
Twitching or uncontrollable movements
We all get the odd twitch in our eyelid from time to time, but if you find yourself frequently blinking or closing your eyes, particularly if you can’t control it, this is something you should see a GP about.
It could be eye dystonia (Blepharospasm), which is more common in older people.
A GP may want to send you for further tests to find out what causes or triggers these movements.
- NHS, Eyelid problems, 08/09/2017.
- NICE, Styes (hordeola), 01/08/2015.
- NICE, Blepharitis, 01/10/2015.
- NICE, Conjunctivitis - infective, 01/04/2018.
- NICE, Dry eye syndrome, 01/08/2017.
- Dystonia Society, Blinking and eye problems, 2018.
- NHS, Eyelid problems, 08/09/2017.