- Swelling of eyelids or area around the eye
- No redness of white part of the eye (sclera)
- No yellow or green discharge (pus)
- Swelling is not caused by an eye injury. If so, see that guide.
Eye Swelling Scale
- Mild: eyelid is puffy, but can open eyes like normal
- Moderate: more than puffy, but eyes still open some
- Severe: eyelids swollen shut or almost shut
Causes of Eye Swelling on One Side
- Rubbing the Eye. Rubbing from any cause will make the eyelids puffy. Often, it starts from getting an irritant in the eye. Young children often touch their eyes with dirty hands. They also may get food in the eye.
- Insect Bite near the eye. A reaction to the insect's spit causes swelling. The loose eye tissues swell easily. The most common bite is from a mosquito.
- Contact Dermatitis near the eye. An example is poison ivy.
- Injury near the eye. Can cause a bruise and swelling.
- Sty. A minor infection of an eyelash.
- Dacryocystitis. An infection of the tear sac in the corner of the eye.
- Ethmoid Sinus Infection (serious). This causes swelling and redness of the eyelid. The ethmoid sinus is behind the eye.
- Periorbital Cellulitis (serious). A bacterial infection of the eyelid. Caused by spread from nearby infected wound or insect bite. The eyelid is very red and usually painful to touch.
Causes of Eye Swelling on Both Sides
- Allergic Conjunctivitis. Itchy pink eyes from pollen or pet dander.
- Viral Conjunctivitis. The main symptom is red eyes with a cold.
- Bacterial Conjunctivitis. The main symptom is yellow pus in the eye or eyes. Eyelids may be matted shut.
- Edema (serious). Edema is retained fluid within body tissues. Edema fluid first appears as swelling of the feet due to gravity. Edema fluid also occurs around both eyes after lying down. It's caused by kidney, heart or liver failure.
- Anaphylaxis (very serious). A severe life-threatening allergic reaction. Triggered by foods, drugs and bee stings. Serious symptoms such as trouble breathing or swallowing occur. Hives are almost always present.
Swelling of Eye: Clues to the Cause
- Swelling of 1 eye is often due to an insect bite. Mosquito bites are a common cause. It can also be from an irritant (e.g. food) transferred to the eye by the hands.
- Suspect mosquito bites if there are bites on other parts of the body. Insect bites of the upper face can cause the eyelid to swell. This can last for a few days. With insect bites, the swelling can be pink as well as large. Large swelling is common for ages 1-5 years.
- Swelling of both eyes is usually due to pollen that's airborne. This includes tree, grass or weed pollen. These pollens float in the air and can travel hundreds of miles. Itching also makes the swelling worse.
- Swelling of the face is usually due to allergic reactions to swallowed substances. Examples are foods or medicines. May be part of a severe allergic reaction.
- Allergic reactions to antibiotic eyedrops can cause severe swelling of both eyes.
- Swollen eyelids from insect bites, pollens or other allergies are itchy.
- Swollen eyelids from eyelid infections are painful and tender to the touch.