If you’ve ever felt exhausted, like you can’t keep your eyes open, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of having heavy eyelids. We explore eight causes as well as several home remedies you can try.

If your eyelids feel heavy, it could be the result of a number of causes including:

  • exhaustion
  • heredity
  • aging
  • allergies
  • ptosis
  • dry eye
  • dermatochalasis
  • blepharitis

Exhaustion

When you’re tired, your levator muscles (which keep your upper eyelids open) can become fatigued, just like your other muscles. After keeping your eyes open all day, your levators can start to sag.

Heredity

If your grandparents or parents have droopy eyes, there’s a good chance that you will, too. You can thank your family for this hereditary trait.

Aging

Your skin becomes less supple as you age. That, combined with years of rubbing your eyes and frequent exposure to the sun, can stretch your eyelids (which also happen to be the thinnest skin on your body). Once they’re stretched, your eyelids aren’t able to bounce back into position as well as they used to.

Allergies

If you’re suffering from seasonal allergies or other types of allergies, your eyelids can become swollen and congested. This can give them a “heavy” feeling, along with itching or redness.

Ptosis

When your upper eyelid falls over your eye to a position lower than normal, it’s called ptosis or blepharoptosis. If ptosis interferes with your vision or negatively impacts your appearance, eyelid surgery — blepharoplasty — can improve your condition.

If your ptosis is caused by a muscle disease, neurological problem, or localized eye condition, your doctor will treat the underlying cause and that might correct the droopiness.

Dry eye

If the quantity or quality of your tears is not enough to lubricate your eye, you’re probably suffering from dry eye. Dry eye can make your eyelids feel heavy. It’s also commonly combined with other symptoms such as stinging and redness. Treatment for dry eye includes over-the-counter medications and prescription dry-eye medications such as cyclosporine and lifitegrast. There are also surgical options.

Dermatochalasis

Excess eyelid skin is called dermatochalasis. It’s part of the aging process and is typically found in people over the age of 50. Dermatochalasis can be addressed through blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery).

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that can make them feel heavy. Other symptoms are typically redness and crusting where the eyelashes attach at the edge of the eyelid.

The first step for treating blepharitis is a daily regimen of warm compresses and lid scrubs. Additional treatment, such as eye drops, might also be recommended.

Home remedy for dry eye

Omega-3 fatty acids. A 2013 study indicated that omega-3 fatty acids dietary supplements can positively impact dry-eye syndrome. The study also showed a positive impact of omega-3 fatty acids on blepharitis.

Home remedies for blepharitis

Tea tree oil. Consider applying a mixture of 2 drops of tea tree essential oil and 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil to your eyelids. Natural healers advocate its use for soothing dry skin and removing dandruff. A 2006 study showed that tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects.

Black tea. Advocates of natural healing suggest using the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of black tea to treat blepharitis. Try putting a black teabag into boiling water and then letting the water cool down from hot to warm. After squeezing the water from the teabag, place the teabag on your closed eyelid for 10 minutes. A 2001 study showed the antioxidant and antibacterial properties of black tea.

Heavy eyelids could be the result of many different causes. If they’re bothering you, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a full diagnosis and discussion of treatment options.