What Causes Puffy Eyes: An In-Depth Explanation

Rahul Gupta
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Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
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What causes puffy eyes

Puffy eyes might result from inflammation, allergy, physical irritation, and infection.

Periorbital Edema is the medical term used for puffy eyes.

Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) and Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye surface) are the puffy eye causes.

Other reasons for puffy eyes include excessive rubbing of the eyes, lack of sleep, or crying. 

Depending on the cause, puffiness can happen to one or both eyes.

Scroll down and check out the puffy eye causes. Yet, check with your doctor to know about the possible treatment options.

Good to know
Ophthalmologists and optometrists report that Blepharitis is commonly seen in clinical practice in 37% and 47% of their patients.

What Causes Puffy Eyes:

Some reasons for puffy eyes can be grouped into medical, natural, and lifestyle.

Medical causes:

Medical causes of periorbital puffiness include:

  • Sinusitis
  • Trichinosis
  • Eye wound
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Mononucleosis
  • Chagas disease
  • Thyroid diseases
  • Allergic reactions

Natural causes:

Emotional TearsSource: Victoria_Emerson_from_Pexels
emotional tears
  • Crying – Tears can irritate the eyes while you cry. This might cause Edema (swelling).
  • Aging – A person’s body loses more water during the day as they get older. This might cause the eyes to enlarge as the body tries to retain extra fluid.

Also Read: If you want to read how can crying lead to puffy eyes, read the article, Puffy Eyes from Crying: Know Why.

Lifestyle causes:

Some lifestyle causes of puffy eyes include:

  • Irregular sleeping patterns can cause fluid retention in the body.
  • Excess consumption of salt – A salt-rich diet may cause the body to retain more fluids.
  • Excessive Alcohol consumption – Alcohol can drain water from the body, leading to dehydration. Drinking excess alcohol regularly might lead to fluid retention.
  • Smoking – Smoking cigarettes may induce hormonal imbalances, which leads to fluid retention


You should speak to a doctor if you have developed Periorbital Edema or puffy eyes.

They can help to diagnose the underlying puffy eye causes and may ask you to perform specific tests, including:

  • Blood test
  • Skin biopsy
  • Allergy tests
  • Imaging tests

Your doctor might thoroughly examine the affected area.

The doctor might ask you questions related to lifestyle and health to find out the reasons for puffy eyes.

The doctor can perform a series of tests, depending on the suspected cause.


There are several ways to reduce the puffiness of the eyes.

Some remedies are as simple as staying hydrated throughout the day.

Severe cases might involve cosmetic surgery.

Here are some quick tips and tricks that you can try to get rid of swollen or puffy eyes.

Avoid ignoring the symptoms of puffy eyes, as they may degrade your condition. Immediately consult your doctor.

Get enough sleep

It is essential to understand that your actual bedtime begins long before you go to bed and fall asleep. Make sure to stick to your bedtime routine and follow these instructions:

  • Stop drinking alcohol before bedtime.
  • Finish your exercise hours by evening.
  • Try not to use electronic devices 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine intake at least six hours before bedtime.
  • Complete your dinner at least three hours before bedtime.

Get some support

  • Use 1 or 2 pillows under your head to prevent fluid from settling around your eyes.
  • If you can’t sleep sideways on a stack of pillows or a wedge pillow, slightly try to lift the head off your bed.

Treat your allergies

  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you frequently develop allergies.
  • Allergies can make your eyes swell and redden.
  • This may lead you to rub your eyes more, which might lead to puffiness.
  • Your doctor can help you create a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms.
  • This can either include prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines or include eye drops.

Drink enough water

waterSource: seb_ra_from_Getty_Images
  • Dehydration might be among the puffy eye causes 
  • Drink sufficient water every day to keep your skin healthy. As it has been said, you should drink at least eight glasses of water every day.
  • Set an hourly reminder on your phone to keep track of your water intake.
  • Moreover, you can use a refillable water bottle marked with specific times to help you drink enough water throughout the day.

Avoid alcohol

  • Avoid ingesting beverages like alcohol, which can lead to dehydration.
  • Dehydration might be one reason for puffy eyes, so it’s better to have small water breaks during working hours.

Pass on the salt

  • Excess consumption of salt can lead to additional water retention in your body.
  • You might also face other health problems, such as an increased risk of stroke and heart problems.
  • As per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily recommended sodium usage is 2300 milligrams (mg). However, the American Heart Association recommends a daily limit of 1,500 mg.
  • Avoid processed foods, cheese, cold meats, bread, and others to lessen your salt intake.
  • Instead, focus more on eating foods like fresh vegetables and fruits.

Also Read: If you want to know can too much salt lead to puffy eyes, read the article, Can too much Salt Cause Puffy Eyes?

Talk to your doctor about cosmetic surgery

If the condition of your puffy eyes is severe, make sure to consult your doctor and necessary lifestyle changes.

If things don’t go your way, the doctor might suggest cosmetic surgery.

Blepharoplasty is one such recommended eyelid surgery. 

During the treatment, your doctor will remove excess muscle, skin, and fat from your eyelid.

Depending on the requirement, you may also be advised to undergo chemical peels, laser treatments, or prescription medications to treat puffy eye causes.

When to consult a doctor

The eye is one of the most feeble organs in the human body.

Once you witness the symptoms are being persistent, consult your doctor.

If the procedures are done improperly, severe complications may arise.

So it is necessary to find a qualified, experienced, and certified surgeon who specializes in treating the eyelid area.


Puffy eyes refer to mild swelling under the eyes.

They are common as you age, and the tissues around your eyes weaken. 

Fluids might accumulate below your eyes, leading to puffiness.

Puffy eyes might be a cosmetic concern; consult your doctor before undergoing treatment.

There could be several puffy eye causes if the symptom continues; your doctor will help to improve their appearance.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my eyes so puffy?

Puffy eyes might result when the muscles supporting and tissue structuring your eyelids weaken. You will witness saggy skin under the eyes. Moreover, the space below your eyes can gather fluid and make the area look swollen or puffy.

Can stress cause puffy eyes?

Yes, stress can contribute to puffy eyes. This results in obstructing your vision and becoming uncomfortable. In general, puffy eye causes do not have other associated symptoms. They can either be safely treated at home or require medical attention.

What viruses cause puffy eyes?

Infectious mononucleosis, also called glandular fever, is a viral infection that can cause puffy eyes. This usually spreads by sharing a glass or food utensils with someone who is already infected.

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