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Eyelid Problems

Topic Overview

Eyelid problems may be caused by irritation or infection. Common symptoms are redness, swelling, itching, and excess tearing; some drainage may also be present.

Common symptoms of a stye (hordeolum) include swelling and tenderness or a tender red lump on the eyelid with occasional discharge from the lump. A chalazion is a larger, hard lump that forms on the eyelids and, in most cases, is not painful.

Skin problems, such as eczema and seborrheic dermatitis, can affect the eyelids, causing redness along the eyelid border or flaking from the eyelashes (blepharitis). Allergens, such as pollen and animal dander, may irritate the eye. People who have skin problems and allergies often have ongoing minor problems with the skin of their eyelids and allergic irritation of the eyes.

Eyelid twitching is often caused by stress or fatigue and usually stops on its own in a short time or improves with rest or reduced stress. Twitches are not a cause for concern unless they persist or occur with other symptoms that suggest nerve problems.

Drooping eyelids may be caused by aging, by injury to the nerves that control muscle tone in the eyelids, or by a neurologic disease, such as myasthenia gravis. If the eyelids start to droop slowly over a long period of time, this is less serious than sudden onset of drooping eyelids.

The eyelid can change size or position if the globe of the eye swells or is pushed forward. If eyelid changes are present with any vision loss, eye misalignment, or movement problems, an evaluation is needed.

Sometimes the lower lid turns in toward the eyeball (entropion), and the lashes constantly irritate the surface of the eyeball. This situation may require surgery, but it is not an emergency.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Christopher J. Rudnisky, MD, MPH, FRCSC - Ophthalmology
Last Revised January 25, 2013

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