Conditions Affecting the Eyelids
Know your Body

The Inside Story of a Fluttering Eyelid

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 11 Apr 2014 - 13:31.

There are two pairs of eyelids one pair for each eye. Both the pairs are symmetrical and identical to each other. Each pair consists of an upper eye lid and a lower eyelid.

The eyelids guard the eyes from the injury, light and any environmental factors. The inner layers of the lid are the corneal surface which is smooth and spreads the tears evenly over the eyes. 

Each lid is composed of an outer, middle and inner layers. The out layer forms the skin, the middle layer is made of muscle and tissue which gives the eyelids their shape and form and an inner layer which is made of moist conjunctival tissue.

Several muscles work together in accomplishing and controlling the movements of the lids. The middle layer of the eyelid has a circular muscle called the Orbicularis which helps closure of the lids. The muscle attached to the inside of the upper eyelid helps to elevate the upper lid.

A smooth muscle in the lids helps maintain the elasticity and the tone of the eye lids. The meibomian glands which are tiny oil producing glands line the inner edge of the lids that lubricates the eye.  The eyelashes protect the eyes from the dust and debris. 

Besides protection of the eyes from external injuries or exposure to dust and smoke the eyelids play an important role in displaying expressions and emotions of an individual.

The eyelids derive nerve and blood supply for their day to day actions. A mere gush of air signals the brain to send instant message to the lids to close, thereby preventing injurious effects to the eye. All this is possible through an instant messaging system through nerves.

Several conditions affect the eyelids. The most common ones are described as under:

Burns: Though the lids have a natural capacity to close instantly when exposed to the effects of heat they too, like any other organs in the body are liable for burn injuries. The lids guard the eye and close instantly the moment they notice any intruder. However, depending on the extent of exposure to heat the lids initially bear the brunt of the heat while protecting the inside of eye.

If the exposure to heat is extensive, the eye ball and the structures inside may also get affected. Chemical burns may affect the eyelids first and then the eyes depending on the extent of exposure to the chemicals. Pain and swelling make the eyelids close and indirectly protect the inside of the eye.

Washing the eye with running water with an undine and applying antibiotic ointments might help  mild to moderate burns. Severe cases of burns require the attention of an ophthalmologist to save the eye. Severe chemical burns lead to scarring and rupture of the cornea which in turn may lead to blindness.

Lacrimal Sac infection: Constant production of tears and transmission to the eyes via the lacrimal apparatus enables the lids to constantly clean the eyes and keep it moist. However, when ever there is infection to the lacrimal sac where the tears are stored, the lids may not be able to carry on their duty properly. The sac becomes red and swollen which later leads to abscess formation with severe pain on touch. Treatment consists of hot compressions, antibiotics (local and systemic) and if necessary surgery.

Swelling of the eyelids: Anything which irritates the eye will irritate the lids leading to swelling and painful lids. The usual cause is an allergic reaction .Treatment consists of compressions and use of anti-allergic drops and tablets. If infection supervenes systemic antibiotics are given.


*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.