The causes and treatment of puffy eyes


One speaks of puffy eyes when one or both eyes are thickened due to fluid retention in the tissue. The fluid comes from the lymphatic system in which the lymph is otherwise transported away. This removal can be disrupted for various reasons. The lymph then builds up and is pressed into the surrounding tissue, where it becomes noticeable as a swelling. Puffy eyes look unsightly, but in most cases they are harmless and the puffiness will recede early.

The most common causes of puffy eyes

There are many different causes for puffy eyes. In addition to allergic causes, various metabolic pathways in the body can cause swelling in the eye; For example, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, or limited cardiac output. In addition, lack of sleep alone or in combination with alcohol consumption can cause puffy eyes.

Read more on the topic: swelling under the eye

If an affected person reports a fall or blow to the eye, then there may be a major injury to the eyeball or bone in addition to the swelling. But crying and rubbing the eyes can also be the cause. Another group of causes is inflammation of the eye. For example stye or corneal inflammation. Corneal inflammation can occur in connection with the frequent use of contact lenses and cause unpleasant swelling.

Here is another article on inflammation of the eye: infections of the eye

The kidney as the cause

When the kidneys are no longer doing their job properly, puffy eyes can be a symptom. In addition to producing hormones, the main task of the kidneys is to produce urine. Be about this Toxins, Degradation materials and other Metabolic products eliminated.

If the kidneys are caused by genetic causes, by sugar (Diabetes mellitus), high blood pressure (hypertension) or are damaged by an infection, they can no longer serve their purpose. The fluid that should otherwise be excreted in the urine is deposited in the body. Often this is in the legs, on the ankles and also on the eyes. Otherwise the lymphatic fluid flows through a complex system into the great vena cava (Vena Cava) from.

If symptoms such as general weakness, tiredness, itching, poor urine output and loss of appetite also appear, then a doctor should be consulted, as this indicates an onset or progressive Renal failure could be.

Alcohol as the cause

By consuming alcohol take place in the body's own Endocrine system short-term changes take place. Through alcohol becomes ADH, the Anti-Diuretic Hormone blocked - this means that more urine is formed, you have to go to the toilet more often and, accordingly, the body loses more water. In general, this means that you feel a “fire” - you are very thirsty. In the eye, this can lead to swelling. Due to the loss of fluid, the eye can no longer be kept adequately moist. This carries the risk of drying out the eye. The body counteracts this by producing more lymph in the area of ​​the eye and thus storing more fluid. In the course of the day, these deposits disappear again if enough fluids are drunk and exercise.

You can find an article on the subject of "dry eyes" here: Dry eyes

Lymphatic system as the cause

If puffy eyes are a recurring problem, especially in the morning after getting up, then one can Lymph drainage disorder be the cause. During the night, the person lies or sleeps in a horizontal position. As a result, the force of gravity is lacking, which in a standing person means that the lymph can drain off well. As a test, it is possible to sleep with the upper body elevated at night. In addition, it should be ensured that one does not sleep with the temple on the hand - this can also interrupt the lymphatic drainage.

The cause can also be that too much lymph is formed in the area of ​​the eye. Reasons for this can Alcohol consumption, Kidney damage, Inflammation or Injuries to the eye be. Gently massage the surrounding tissue can help relieve the swelling.

Elsewhere it is reported that very much salty or protein-rich food can cause similar problems in the evening or before bed. If puffy eyes occur more frequently in the morning, it should be reconsidered whether a very salty meal was eaten in the evening. Basically, a slight build-up of lymph can occur. If it occurs frequently, the Family doctor or also a Ophthalmologist be consulted.

Bags under the eyes as the cause

The formation of bags under the eyes has other causes than a swollen eye. While a puffy eye is mostly a short to medium term condition, bags under the eyes are a problem, what over years trains.

Contrary to what the name suggests, the bags under the eyes do not contain tears. The cause can be lifestyle-dependent, but also genetic. Above all, an unhealthy diet, smoking and drinking are said to have a positive effect on the formation of bags under the eyes. They arise from the storage of Fats and Metabolic products below the eye in the lower eyelid. Swelling of the lower eyelid can be associated with it. But healthy and younger people can also be affected; then there is a genetic cause. But even then you should pay attention to a healthy lifestyle so as not to push the problem forward.

You might also be interested in: What can be done against bags under the eyes?

Eyes swollen from a cold

With a cold, in most cases, the nose or the Sinuses relocated. Since the tear fluid usually drains into the sinuses, it now builds up. That is why the eyes water more than usual with a cold. In addition, the Lymph fluid inadequate drainage and swelling of the eye occurs. This is uncomfortable and annoying, but not dangerous. When the cold subsides, the swelling goes down too. The swelling can be reduced more quickly by inhalation, cooling, massaging or compressing.

Diagnostics for swollen eyes

The doctor makes the diagnosis that the eyes are puffy by inspection and palpation. Just by looking at the patient and the area around his eyes, the doctor can see that the eyelids and the surrounding tissue are thickened and swollen. In addition, there is usually a slight reddening. In addition, swelling can be recognized by touching (palpating) the eyes. If there is swelling, there is a bump, elastic thickening and overheating.

As a rule, further diagnostics are not necessary. Should there be a suspicion that there may be injuries inside the eye; for example due to a blow, fall or accident, the inside of the eye can then be viewed with the slit lamp. In addition, the bones can then be examined for fractures with an X-ray and the soft tissue (muscles, nerves, vessels) for damage with an MRI.

You might also be interested in: Edema of the eye

Concomitant symptoms

Depending on why the puffy eyes occur, there may be other symptoms. In the case of an allergy, for example, there is itching of the eye, runny nose, coughing or sneezing, watering of the eyes and possibly also shortness of breath. If kidney failure is the cause, those affected usually also have swelling (Edema) on other parts of the body. In addition, tiredness, exhaustion, little urination, itching and loss of appetite appear.

Read more on the topic: Watery eyes

If excessive alcohol consumption is the cause, the typical symptoms of a hangover are: headache, nausea, excessive urination, thirst and possibly also loss of appetite. If there is inflammation in the eye, there is usually reddening, overheating, possibly pain in the eye and, if the problems progress, visual disturbances. The symptoms mentioned here occur with more specific diseases. If other things are the cause, such as crying, sleeping longer, a foreign body in the eye or irritation, then in addition to the swelling of the eye, there is usually a slight reddening and a feeling of pressure.


If there is itching along with puffy eyes, that's one allergic cause probably. Depending on the allergy, the problems arise at different times of the year, at different times and in different places. Usually there are also symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing or shortness of breath. On a test basis, with light Antihistamines be treated. If there is an improvement here, then the allergy is very likely the cause.

In addition to the allergy, there are also various Infections to think. A Corneal inflammation Viruses, bacteria or fungi cause redness, itching and swelling of the eye. In addition, should also be a Hailstone or a Stye be thought. These can also be seen from the outside as swelling and reddening of the eye. If, in addition to the itching, there is severe reddening and swelling of the eye as well as pain or visual disturbances and these do not go away within 2-3 days, then this should be Family doctor or a Ophthalmologist be addressed.

What can you do about puffy eyes?

If you have puffy eyes and want to get active, then there are several tricks you can use. For one, it is important that they are adequate drink. Ideally 2-3 liters a day. This compensates for any lack of fluid in the body and the Lymph flow cranked.

Another helpful measure can be Cool be of the eyes. A wet towel that is placed over the eyes can help. Otherwise, there are also cooling goggles in stores that contain cool packs that can be placed in the freezer or refrigerator. To reduce the swelling can also be careful and gentle massage help the eyes. For example, you can massage your forefingers over your eyes in circles. It should be noted that these instructions apply if the swelling is a harmless short-term swelling. If there are illnesses, inflammations or other injuries, under no circumstances should these tips be used for symptomatic treatment. In these cases a doctor can be used to treat the root cause. If you are unsure whether a swollen eye is harmless, a doctor should also be consulted.

Home remedies for puffy eyes

As home remedies are available for treating puffy eyes for example Teabag to disposal. Hot water is poured over them and then placed in the refrigerator. After about half an hour, they can then be carefully placed over the closed eyes. Depending on the type of tea, they have an anti-inflammatory effect (black tea) and decongestant (Eyebright). Other home remedies that are used as part of beauty measures are Cucumber slices and Curd wraps. These have a cooling, anti-inflammatory and decongestant effect.

How long does it take?

How long puffy eyes last can vary widely. If the swelling occurs in the morning due to lack of sleep, alcohol consumption or lymph congestion, the problem disappears in the course of the morning. Is the swelling due to a allergy (e.g. pollen), then in the worst case the swelling can last for weeks. Since one is not exposed to the allergen all the time and is usually treated with medication, the swellings ideally only occur here when one comes into contact with the allergen.

If there is inflammation in the eye, the swelling can persist for several weeks if insufficiently treated, and in the worst case long-term Damage to the eye cause. With medication, the swelling subsides within a few days. If kidney disease or metabolic disease are the cause, then the swollen eyes usually remain up to one adequate therapy takes place.

Puffy eyes in the morning

Puffy eyes in the morning can be for a variety of reasons. With one of the most common reasons is lack of sleep - then the puffy eyes often show up Dark circles. Over the course of the day or at the latest after the next sufficiently long sleep phase, the puffy eyes will disappear again.

If you suffer from dark circles, you might be interested in the following: Remove dark circles

Furthermore, a Lymphatic congestion to be responsible. Lying down does not cause the lymph to drain properly. After getting up, this problem usually disappears again. If alcohol was drunk in the evening, this can be seen as the cause. Another group of triggers are allergies - then usually a runny nose, coughing stimulus or shortness of breath occur. A common allergen that can be found in the bedroom is mites or house dust.

Puffy eyes in the baby / toddler / child

If a toddler or baby has puffy eyes, this is not to be underestimated. Allergies are a common cause. These often develop in small children and, depending on the season, can cause watery and swollen eyes, runny noses and sneezes. In these cases, a visit to Pediatrician helpful. He or she may prescribe allergy drops to help the child minimize the symptoms. It is important that the children themselves do not rub the eye, since germs can be carried into the eye. This can be a Conjunctivitis which can also cause a swollen eye.

If there is a purulent, yellowish secretion and the eye itches, burns and hurts, then it is probably one bacterial infection. In these cases Antibiotics be treated. If the fluid in the eye is rather clear and transparent, then the conjunctivitis is more caused by a virus. Then antibiotics won't help. After 2-3 days the problem should be resolved by itself. If this is not the case, the doctor should check the eye again.

These are two other causes of eye swelling Barley- and the Hailstone. This causes blocked tear ducts to become inflamed. Heat, such as from red light lamps or washcloths, can help here. If the swelling does not improve and the eyes become overheated and reddened, the doctor can prescribe an antibiotic ointment. The grains should not expressed as the germs can spread further to the eye. In addition, so-called Eyelid inflammation cause swelling. Small dots of pus appear on the edges of the eyelids. Cleaning with warm water helps here. If the symptoms persist after 2-3 days, a doctor prescribe antibiotic ointment or drops.

Eyes swollen from crying

If someone has cried heavily or for a longer period of time, they often see red, puffy and puffy eyes. Crying often causes irritation to the eye when the person rubs the eye. The swelling of the eye is explained by the fact that the pressure around the eye increases while rubbing. This increased pressure means that liquid is squeezed out of many small vessels and gets into the tissue. This is then called swelling perceived. Within a few minutes to an hour, the redness and swelling should have subsided. It depends on how long someone cried. Various tricks are known to speed up this process (see What to do with puffy eyes and Home remedies further up).

Puffy eyes from thyroid disease

At a Hypothyroidism In many patients there is swelling of the skin in different parts of the body, including on the eye. The skin and tissues appear puffy. At a Hyperthyroidism there is less swelling of the eye than a bulging of the eye out of the eye socket. Here is a autoimmune-related swelling of the tissue behind the eye in the eye socket. The patients have colloquially "bulging eyes".

Puffy eyes with dark circles

If you have puffy eyes with Dark circles Then the most likely cause is that the affected person is from fatigue respectively lack of sleep suffers. In addition, the consumption of alcohol or the abuse of other drugs can trigger these symptoms with and on their own. Dark circles occur because the oxygen levels in the blood are reduced. This causes the blood to turn darker. You can see this especially in the area of ​​the eyelids, as the skin here is very thin, but well supplied with blood, and the darker blood here shows through well.

What you can do about dark circles can be found here: What to do about dark circles?

You may also be interested in the following topics:

  • Swollen eyelids
  • Lacrimal inflammation
  • Inflammation of the eyelid
  • Inflammation of the upper eyelid
  • Inflammation of the lower eyelid
  • Inflammation of the lacrimal gland
  • Inflammation of the cornea
  • Stye
  • Hailstone
  • Angioedema

You can find further topics from ophthalmology here: Ophthalmology A-Z