Swollen eyes can have several causes, including injury and infection. Seek immediate medical care if the swelling is severe or is accompanied by pain, redness, or vision changes.

Is your eyeball swollen, bulging, or puffy? An infection, trauma, or other preexisting condition may be the cause. Read on to learn five potential causes, their symptoms, and treatment options.

If you’re having trouble seeing or your eyes are visibly pushed forward, consult a doctor as soon as possible before the condition worsens.

Trauma to the eye

Trauma to the eye is defined as direct impact to the eye or surrounding area. This can happen during sports, car accidents, and other high-impact situations.

Subconjunctival hemorrhage

If you have one or more blood spots in the white of your eye (sclera), you could have a subconjunctival hemorrhage. If a blood vessel breaks in the clear outer membrane of your eye, blood could leak between it and the white of your eye. This is typically harmless and usually heals on its own.

Trauma can cause subconjunctival hemorrhage, as well as a quick rise in blood pressure from:

Chemosis of conjunctiva

Chemosis occurs when the eye is irritated and the conjunctiva swells. The conjunctiva is the clear membrane covering your outer eye. Because of the swelling, you might not be able to completely close your eyes.

Allergens often cause chemosis, but a bacterial or viral infection can also trigger it. Along with swelling, symptoms may include:


Conjunctivitis is commonly called pinkeye. A viral or bacterial infection in the conjunctiva often causes it. Allergic reactions to irritants may also be a culprit. Pinkeye symptoms include:

Most cases of pinkeye will go away on their own. If it’s a bacterial infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Graves’ disease

Graves’ disease is an autoimmune condition that results in hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. The National Institutes of Health estimate one-third of people with Graves’ disease also develop an eye condition called Graves’ ophthalmopathy.

In Graves’ ophthalmopathy, the immune system attacks the tissues and muscles surrounding the eyes, resulting in inflammation that produces a bulging-eye effect. Other symptoms include:

If your swollen eyeball isn’t due to trauma or doesn’t go away in 24 to 48 hours after basic home care, you may have one of the conditions discussed above. Many eye conditions require a medical diagnosis and treatment.

See your doctor as soon as possible if you’re experiencing extreme swelling, redness, or pain in your eyeball. Don’t ignore your symptoms. The earlier you receive treatment, the sooner you can recover.