Puffy eyes causes, symptoms, and treatment

By: Dr. Victor Marchione | Eye Health | Friday, August 26, 2016 - 04:00 PM

puffy eyesPuffy eyes, or bags under the eyes, can occur for numerous reasons, and can even be hereditary. Puffy eyes are commonly associated with weakening of the muscles supporting the eyelids brought on by aging. As a result, fat that supports the eyes moves to the lower eyelids, making them look puffy. Fluid may also accumulate in the space below your eyes, also promoting the swelling.

Cases when puffy eyes are associated with a serious medical condition are very rare. As a rule, it is a cosmetic concern.

Causes and symptoms of puffy eyes and bags under the eyes

Oftentimes, bags under the eyes appear due to the lack of good quality sleep. Additional causes for puffy eyes include stress, allergies, fluid retention, hormonal fluctuations, crying, excessive alcohol intake, aging, skin disorders, diet, hypothyroidism, tear gland dysfunction, nephritic syndrome, contact lens wear, conjunctivitis, blepharitis, sties, and eye infections.

To determine the cause of eye puffiness, pay attention to any accompanying symptoms and review any lifestyle factors that could contribute to your puffy eyes.

Symptoms of puffy eyes include:

  • Eye irritation – itchiness
  • Excess tear production
  • Obstructed vision
  • Redness of the eyelid
  • Red and inflamed eyes
  • Eye discharge
  • Eyelid dryness or flaking
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Saggy or loose skin
  • Dark circles

If you experience symptoms such as sneezing, headache, weight loss or weight gain, or rashes in other parts of the body, your eye puffiness may be a result of an allergy, a thyroid problem, or a skin condition. This should prompt you to speak with your doctor to avoid any complications.

Puffy eyes in the morning after you wake up

overactive bladder sleep apnea in womenSometimes you may notice your eyes are their puffiest after waking up in the morning. This is because your eyes remain idle during the sleep. When you blink throughout the day, your eyes are getting their exercise. When you sleep, there is no movement, which results in swelling in some people. Once you wake up and start blinking, the fluid circulation is restored and the puffiness goes away.

Plus, if the meal you ate the night before was rich in sodium, you could be retaining excess water, which could add to the puffiness.

Puffy eyes in the morning can also be a result of poor sleep or sleeping with your head flat. Ensure your head is slightly elevated before you begin your snooze.

Puffy eyes treatment and prevention

As puffy eyes are usually not a serious cause for concern, you can fix this problem with simple home remedies. For starters, review your lifestyle habits and make appropriate adjustments to reduce your risk of getting those bags under the eyes yet again. Possible adjustments include reducing salt in your diet, getting more sleep, sleeping with your head propped up, not drinking too much alcohol, and ensuring your contacts are clean and not irritating your eyes.

Other fixes and prevention tips for puffy eyes include:

  • Use eyes drops if allergies are irritating the eyes
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Apply cold compresses
  • Apply cucumbers or tea bags to the eyes
  • Use specially formulated creams for the eyes
  • Eat potassium-rich foods
  • Splash cold water on your face
  • Use a hemorrhoid cream containing phenylephrine temporarily. It can help reduce the puffiness and rid you of dark circles.

If your puffy eyes are a result of a medical condition, ensure you see your doctor and follow the treatment plan prescribed.

If bags under the eyes are severe, you can undergo eyelid surgery where the surgeon removes or redistributes the fat around the eyes. This procedure is known as blepharoplasty.

When to see a doctor for puffy eyes

You will want to see your doctor for your puffy eyes if the problem is severe and persistent, if puffy eyes are accompanied by redness, itching, and pain, and if it affects other parts of your body – legs, for example. Your doctor will have you tested for thyroid problems, infections, or allergy.

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