QUESTION: what can cause swollen eyes in children? 

ANSWERS: most of the time it is not the eye that is swollen but instead are swollen eyelids. There are many common causes of swollen eyelids in children which can be caused by infection, allergies, or trauma. You do need to make sure that the eye has not been affected by any of these causes. To do so you need to make sure that the child can move the eye in every direction. You also need to make sure that there are no foreign bodies in the eye itself. If you are unsure if the eye has been affected or not, check with your child's pediatrician.


The most common cause of infections is viruses and bacteria. Before the eyelid swells it may be preceded by an upper respiratory infection or trauma. A common infection of the white part of the child's eye is called conjunctivitis also known as pinkeye, which can lead to the eyelid swelling. This condition is normally caused by a virus and usually starts out as redness with a yellowish or whitish discharge from their eye along with itching and the eyelids matted together when they wake up.

There is also a bacterial infection called periorbital cellulitis. This is usually preceded by a sinusitis infection where the bacteria can infect the skin around your eye. This includes your eyelid. It can worsen and turn into orbital cellulitis. This is where the infection will go behind your eye and may cause an abscess.

When it comes to direct trauma, children, and their eyes, the most common causes include sharp objects, pencils, flying toys, and tree branches. It can also be caused by insect bites, especially ticks and mosquitoes. Although there may not appear to be any damage to the eye other than a swollen eyelid, it may be necessary to take your child to an ophthalmologist for an exam to be certain. If trauma is the culprit you should make sure to irrigate the eye with sterile water. This is so you can make sure that any debris in the eye is removed and help to minimize developing an infection in your eye.

Another cause could be allergies. During allergy seasons, children that are susceptible to allergies can develop itchy watery eyes. They may also have an allergic reaction to certain foods, detergents, or medications. Because difficulty taking deep breaths allergies can cause your eyes to itch, the frequent rubbing to help alleviate the itching can cause their eyelids to swell. Some children, due to chronic seasonal allergies, may get dark circles, called shiners, under their eyes. These dark circles can go up to their eyelid and increase the inflammation and swelling in the area.


In some cases you may need to seek medical attention immediately. This is especially true if you think that trauma was the cause of the eyelid swelling or if the swelling covers the entire eye. In addition, if the child is complaining of pain when they try to move the eye, open the eye, or if the swelling has other symptoms along with it such as loss of vision or a fever.