Overlooked: Your Eyelids
Redness, and Other Problems
eyelids are more than just a place to decorate with colorful shadow
or to half-close while you're flirting with someone across a crowded
room. Though we look at them in the mirror daily, our eyelids are
often overlooked. They might not be the most glamorous part of the
body, but they perform a myriad of important functions and, as well,
are subject to numerous types of injuries - so this month, let's
look at lids.
eyelids serve to protect the delicate structures of your eye from
injury, light and environmental irritants such as dust or smoke.
They are made up of an outer layer of skin, a middle layer of muscle
and tissue that gives them form, and an inner layer of moist conjunctival
tissue. Did you know that the skin of the eyelids is among the thinnest
anywhere on the body?
eyelids also maintain a smooth corneal surface by spreading tears
evenly over the eye. When you blink, your eyelids close over the
eye many times per minute, which aids the flow of tears across the
eye, and you can close your lids voluntarily to form an added protective
layer at times of potential trauma. The eyelids are closed over
the eye at night to help reduce the evaporation of tears.
skin of the eyelids joins the conjunctiva at the lid edges, which
also contain glands for the tear film and your eyelashes. At the
inner part (by your nose) of the upper and lower lid margins there
are small ducts, which drain away excess tears into the back of
lids are held close to the eye by muscles and tissue of the upper
and lower eyelids. Their springy quality helps us blink fully, help
tears to drain adequately, and maintains the youthful appearance
of our eyes. The reason our eyes get "baggy" as we age
is that the middle layer of muscle and tissue loses its elastic
quality and starts to droop (just like the rest of our body!). When
the skin on the upper lids becomes looser with time, it can hang
down over the eyes, which not only makes us feel or look older than
we are, but may also interfere with our vision. This condition is
known as dermatochalasis and can be corrected with surgery.
fat may collect in the lower eyelids. While we all nat-urally have
fat pockets in the lower lids, pockets can accumulate too much fat,
and the fat can herniate forward, creating puffy or baggy eyes.
The muscles and tissues around the eyelid may become weaker, resulting
in the eyelid folding inwards (entropion) or drooping outwards (ectropion).
This is particularly common in older people; the treatment for both
problems is a small operation aimed at restoring the eyelid to its
are many other causes of "droopy" eyelid, including diabetes,
Bell's palsy, and adrenal insufficiency, so check with your doctor
if you note this happening to you. In addition, you may notice you
have reddish eyelids. This symptom may be caused by something as
common as a sty or rosacea (a skin condition common to women that
manifests as reddness around the nose, cheeks, or forehead, but
that may affect the eyes as well). Or it may indicate chalazion,
a lump in the eyelid that is caused by inflammation of a gland within
the skin. Typically, this lump grows over days or weeks and is occasionally
red, warm, or painful.
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