Feels Like Something is Under My Eyelid but Nothing There

Have you ever experienced that nagging sensation of something being stuck under your eyelid but can’t seem to find anything there? This frustrating and often uncomfortable feeling is familiar to many. Several factors can cause this sensation, and it’s essential to recognise the possible causes and solutions to address the issue effectively.

Foreign body sensation (FBS) can be triggered by various conditions, including dry eyes, insufficient tear film, corneal abrasions, infections, or ulcers. While it might feel like there’s an object under your eyelid, these underlying issues can produce the same sensation without any physical debris present. Identifying the root cause is vital, as some conditions may require medical attention to ensure the health of your eyes.

In some cases, the sensation might be linked to seemingly unrelated factors such as extended screen time, exposure to wind, smoke, or dry air, and even certain medical conditions like diabetes or thyroid disorders. Understanding the contributing factors makes it easier to find relief and restore the comfort of your eyes.

rubbing eyes under glasses

Identifying the Sensation

Common Causes

There are a variety of reasons why you might experience a foreign body sensation in your eye when there appears to be nothing there. Some common causes include:

  • Dry eyes: Insufficient tears or poor tear quality can cause discomfort and make it feel as if something is under your eyelid.
  • Blepharitis: Inflammation of the eyelids often results in irritated, scratchy eyes.
  • Stye or chalazion: Small, red, painful lumps on the eyelid can create the sensation of having something in the eye.
  • Corneal abrasions: Minor scratches on the eye’s surface, often from activities like rubbing your eyes or wearing contact lenses, can cause this sensation.
  • Allergies: Pollen, dust, and other allergens can cause the eyes to feel irritated and as if something is present.

Symptoms of Concern

While the sensation of having something under your eyelid may be uncomfortable, it’s important to keep an eye out for symptoms that may warrant further investigation or treatment. Seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:

  1. Severe pain or irritation that worsens or persists over time
  2. Tearing that doesn’t alleviate the sensation
  3. Changes in vision, such as blurry or reduced vision
  4. Persistent discomfort even after attempting home remedies like artificial tears or a warm compress

Medical Conditions Associated

Infections and Inflammations

Several medical conditions can cause that feeling of having something under the eyelid but nothing is there. One of the common causes is an infection or inflammation. 

stye is an example of a bacterial infection that can lead to eyelid swelling and discomfort. Another condition, chalazion, occurs when an oil gland becomes blocked, causing inflammation. 

Blepharitis is another common issue which results in red, swollen, irritated eyelids. Lastly, conjunctivitis is a contagious infection characterised by redness and discharge.

Eye Surface Damage

When it comes to eye surface damages, corneal abrasions and ulcers can contribute to the discomforting sensation. Corneal abrasions are scratches on the surface of the eye, while corneal ulcers are open sores that can be caused by infections or injuries. Both conditions can result in a foreign body sensation under the eyelid.

Ocular Disorders

Certain ocular disorders can cause similar symptoms as well. Dry eyes is a condition where the eyes don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears, leading to a scratchy or irritated sensation. 

Allergies, such as those triggered by pollen, pet dander, and dust, can cause eye irritation, leading to the sensation of having something in the eye.


Immediate Self-Care

Home Remedies

When experiencing the feeling of something under your eyelid, it’s important to gently care for your eyes. One effective method is using a warm compress. Soak a clean cloth in warm water, squeeze out the excess, and gently place it on your closed eyelid for about 10 minutes. Repeat a few times a day as needed.

Maintaining proper eye hygiene is also important, especially if you wear contact lenses. Ensure you clean your lenses thoroughly and replace them as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. Take breaks if you spend long hours staring at screens and blink frequently to help distribute tears evenly across the eye’s surface.

When to Use Eye Drops

Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops can help alleviate the sensation of having something in your eye. It’s best to choose a preservative-free option to reduce the risk of exacerbating irritation. Use as instructed on the product packaging or as advised by a healthcare professional.

Another option for immediate relief is rinsing your eye with a saline solution. You can buy saline eye drops or make a solution at home by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt with a cup of warm, distilled water. Ensure the salt is fully dissolved, and then gently flush your eye using a clean dropper or cotton ball.

eye drops for itchy eyes

Seeking Professional Help

Symptoms Requiring an Eye Doctor

It’s important to consult an ophthalmologist or a qualified eye care professional if you experience persistent or severe symptoms such as:

  • Eye pain: Sudden or consistent discomfort can be a sign of a potential issue.
  • Vision loss: Partial or complete loss of vision is a serious concern that requires immediate attention.
  • Pus or discharge: Presence of unusual discharge could indicate an infection.

Other troublesome symptoms may include excessive redness, swelling, sensitivity to light, or if the sensation of something under the eyelid persists and is not relieved by simple measures, such as blinking or using artificial tears.

Treatment Options

Once a professional has assessed your symptoms, they can suggest appropriate treatment options for your specific condition, such as:

  1. Over-the-counter eye drops: For mild cases of irritation or dryness, lubricating eye drops or artificial tears may provide relief.
  2. Antibiotics: If an infection is suspected, your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments.
  3. Antihistamines: These can help in the case of allergies causing the sensation of something in the eye.
  4. Steroidal drops: In cases of severe inflammation, your ophthalmologist might recommend steroidal eye drops.

In some cases, additional treatments may be required, such as punctal plugs for chronic dry eyes or surgery for certain corneal ulcers.

Remember, seeking early medical advice is the best course of action when dealing with eye-related concerns, as it can ensure proper diagnosis and management of the condition, ultimately protecting your eye health and vision.