Puffy eyes

Causes, natural home treatments and herbal remedies

Kate Harris

Eye Health Advisor
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An introduction to puffy eyes

By ‘puffy eyes’ we mean swelling in the tissues surrounding the eyes; commonly the eyelids and the area just below the eye. It is a common complaint, but there can be a variety of causes.

Treatment for this condition really depends on the underlying cause, so it’s important to figure this out first.

What are the causes of puffy eyes?

There are a wide range of causes of puffy eyes, including water retention, fatigue, or simply your natural facial structure. The most common are:

  • Fluid retention – if fluid retention is the cause of puffy eyes, it tends to be worse in the mornings after sleeping. This is caused by too much sodium (salt) in the diet, which encourages fluid retention
  • Lack of sleep – problems sleeping can result in puffy eyes the next day
  • Age – puffy eyes can also be a natural part of growing older, as the skin around the eye becomes thinner, causing it to easily swell and droop
  • Crying – puffy, swollen eyes are a normal effect of crying, due to the salt in tears which causes fluid retention, but also because the act of rubbing the eyes can irritate them, causing them to swell
  • Allergies – sometimes allergies such as hayfever can cause puffy eyes. If hayfever is the cause of puffy eyes it will usually be accompanied by other symptoms such as watery eyes or a runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis – conjunctivitis can also cause puffy or swollen eyes. This condition is normally caused by an infection, allergy or contact lenses. You may also notice itching, discomfort, redness or sticky discharge
  • Blepharitis – this is a condition where they outer edges of the eyelids become inflamed, which can result in puffy eyes. The symptoms are similar to conjunctivitis, so this may need diagnosing by your GP
  • Sinus problems, such as sinusitis.

What can I do to reduce or prevent puffy eyes?

There are a number of steps you can take at home to reduce or prevent puffy or swollen eyes, depending on what the cause is. If you aren’t sure what the cause of your puffy eyes is, it may be worth giving a few of them a try to see which one has the greatest effect.

  • Elevating your head while sleeping – if you find your eyes are puffy and swollen after sleeping, try adding an extra pillow to raise your head a little higher. This will encourage fluid to drain from around the eyes
  • Reducing sodium intake in your diet will also reduce fluid retention. Try our low sodium Herbamare, which can be used as a salt substitute. Drinking more water will prevent dehydration, another cause of fluid retention
  • For a simple home remedy, chill two used teabags in the fridge for 30 minutes and then place over the eyes for 15 minutes
  • Cucumber is also a popular remedy for puffy eyes – place a slice of cold cucumber over each eye and lie down for 15 minutes or until they become warm. It is really the cold that reduces swelling here, so you would also benefit from simply using a cloth soaked in cold water
  • Get more sleep - this is particularly important if your puffy eyes are caused by sleep deprivation
  • Avoid coming into contact with anything you know you are allergic to
  • If conjunctivitis is the cause of your puffy or swollen eyes, have a look at the remedies for conjunctivitis that we discuss on our conjunctivitis treatments page.

Are there any herbal remedies that might help?

Depending on the cause of your puffy eyes, herbal remedies may certainly help.

Euphrasia is a herb that has been used to treat eye problems since the 14th century. It is also known as Eyebright because of its traditional uses in eye health. We recommend Euphrasia in eye drop form, such as A.Vogel’s Eye Drops, which are especially useful for tired, dry, irritated eyes, as well as conditions such as conjunctivitis and blepharitis, so if your puffy eyes are a result of these conditions then you may find these drops helpful.

We also suggest our Vision Complex which contains zinc and lutein, which are vital for healthy eyes and improving vision if you think your eyesight is not as good as it should be.

Puffy eyes caused by hayfever can be helped by treating the hayfever with Pollinosan.

Conventional treatment

Again, conventional treatments for puffy eyes really depend on the cause of the problem. A few options are:

  • Antihistamines if your symptoms are caused by an allergy   
  • Antibiotics if your symptoms are caused by bacterial conjunctivitis
  • Some people opt for cosmetic surgery to reduce naturally occurring puffy eyes, for example because of age or simply facial structure.

Vision Complex – for healthy eyes

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Contains tagetes and blackcurrant extracts, rich in lutein, beta-carotene & zeaxanthin.
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