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How do you check the inside of your eyelid?

The inside of the eyelid, known medically as the palpebral conjunctiva, is an important part of the eye that deserves proper examination and care. Checking the conjunctiva regularly is crucial for maintaining ocular health and identifying any potential problems early on. While we don’t often think about the inside of our eyelids, doing a simple self-check is easy and quick. In this comprehensive guide, we will go over why it’s important to inspect your palpebral conjunctiva, what you should look for, tips for getting the best view, and when you should see an eye doctor about any abnormalities.

Why Check the Inside of Your Eyelid?

Here are some key reasons why it’s important to periodically inspect the inside of your eyelids:

  • Look for early signs of infection – Conjunctivitis (pink eye) will first show up as redness on the inside of the eyelid before spreading to the whites of your eyes.
  • Check for swelling or lumps – swollen eyelids or lumps could indicate a sty, chalazion, or more serious condition like cancer.
  • Identify dry eye – Dryness, flakiness, or debris on the inner eyelid can be a symptom of dry eye syndrome.
  • Monitor for changes – Any growths, new blood vessels, lesions or other abnormalities could be a warning sign to get examined by an ophthalmologist.
  • Maintain eye health – Regular self-checks help keep you vigilant about potential vision issues or problems.

Some common eye conditions first exhibit symptoms on the inside eyelid, so checking it is crucial for identifying issues early when they are easiest to treat. Self-exams along with professional eye exams can help maintain your ocular health.

What to Look For

When you check the inside of your eyelid, you’ll want to look for the following:


The conjunctiva should be smooth with a pale pink color. Look for any bumps, growths, swelling, redness, or other abnormalities. The inner eyelid should not have any foreign objects or debris stuck to it.


Check if the conjunctiva looks dry, flaky, or irritated rather than slick and moist. This can indicate dry eye syndrome.


Look to see if there is any discharge in the corners of your eye or crustiness on the lashes. Yellow, green, or excessive discharge could point to an infection.

Blood vessels

Inspect for any tiny red blood vessels or blood spots on the conjunctiva, which are not normally present. Note any vessels that look enlarged or abnormal.

Eyelid position

Make sure the eyelid is in its normal position and not drooping or sagging, which could signal a neurological issue like stroke.

Being familiar with the normal appearance of your conjunctiva will help you recognize when something looks off. Contact your eye doctor promptly about any concerning findings.

Tips for Checking Inside Eyelids

Here are some tips for getting a thorough look at your inner eyelids:

  • Use a bright light and magnifying mirror.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before touching eyes.
  • Gently pull up your top eyelid with clean fingers.
  • Hold down lower lid to access lower conjunctiva.
  • Move eyes side to side to visualize entire conjunctiva.
  • Use a cotton swab to gently lift lids if you prefer not to touch.
  • Take a photo with your phone to compare changes over time.
  • Have someone else look at your inner eyelids if you can’t get a good view.

The key is to get adequate lighting and gently manipulate the lids to get the best view possible. Taking photos over time can help you monitor for any abnormalities. Don’t hesitate to have someone else inspect your eyes if you are unable to.

When to See an Eye Doctor

You should make an appointment with your ophthalmologist or optometrist if you notice any of the following on the inside of your eyelid:

  • Bumps, growths, swelling, or lumps
  • Redness, discharge, or crusting
  • Visible blood vessels or blood spots
  • Dryness, flakiness, or debris
  • Drooping or sagging of the eyelid
  • Sudden loss of vision or eye pain
  • Drastic change from normal appearance

While many growths and issues on the conjunctiva end up being benign, it’s always best to have a medical eye professional take a look. Catching problems early is crucial.

Seek emergency care right away if you experience any sudden loss of vision, significant eye pain, trauma to the eye, or extreme redness and discharge that develops rapidly. These could indicate a medical emergency like vision loss, glaucoma, retinal detachment, or eye infection that needs urgent treatment.

Common Eyelid Problems

Here is an overview of some common eyelid issues that may first be noticeable on the inside lining:


Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, involves inflammation of the conjunctiva usually caused by an infection. The inner eyelid will appear pink or red and there may be thick discharge. Antibiotic eye drops can treat bacterial conjunctivitis while viral types clear up on their own.

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry, gritty eyes along with inner eyelid dryness, debris, and flakiness signals dry eye syndrome. This occurs when tears aren’t able to properly lubricate the eyes. Artificial tears, ointments, and treatments to promote natural tear production are used.


This condition causes inflammation of the eyelids and often results in flaky, greasy debris on the eyelashes and inner lids. Blepharitis can be managed with lid scrubs, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications.


A chalazion is a lump on the eyelid caused by blocked oil glands. Chalazions often resorb on their own but may require antibiotic drops or minor surgery if they persist.


Similar to chalazions, styes are inflamed bumps that form along the edge of the eyelid. They contain pus and are often tender. Warm compresses and antibiotics help clear up styes.

Eye Cancer

While rare, cancers like ocular melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma may first become noticeable as lesions on the conjunctiva. Eye doctors can perform a biopsy if cancer is suspected.

Seeing an ophthalmologist promptly about any bumps, growths, blood spots, or other strange findings on the eyelid lining is very important for an accurate diagnosis and fast treatment. Many conditions caught early respond better to therapy.

Preventive Care for Eyelid Health

Practicing good eye hygiene and care can help prevent many common eyelid issues:

  • Wash hands before touching eyes.
  • Clean eyelids daily with warm water to remove debris and oil.
  • Apply warm, moist compresses to eyelids to manage disorders like blepharitis or styes.
  • Avoid sharing makeup and eye care products to prevent infections.
  • Replace mascara every 3 months to avoid contamination.
  • Manage known eye allergies by avoiding triggers.
  • Stay hydrated and use ocular lubricants if you have dry eye.
  • Wear UV blocking sunglasses outdoors.

Caring for your eyelids and being aware of any changes through regular self-checks allows you to get a jump start on any issues. See your eye doctor right away if anything concerns you.

When to Check Eyelids

Aim to inspect your eyelids about once a month or more frequently if you wear contacts or have a history of eye problems. Some ideal times to examine your inner eyelids include:

  • In the morning when putting in contacts
  • Before bed when removing makeup
  • During your daily face washing routine
  • Any time your eyes feel irritated or uncomfortable
  • After returning from travel or being in crowded places
  • When you wake up with puffy, swollen eyelids

Building brief eyelid checks into your regular self-care practices helps ensure you don’t miss the early onset of any issues. Remember to see your optometrist annually as well for a comprehensive eye exam.

What Does the Doctor See?

When you visit an ophthalmologist or optometrist, they will perform a slit lamp eye exam to look closely at the inside of the eyelids. Here is an overview of what the eye doctor sees when examining the conjunctiva:

Normal Findings Abnormal Findings
  • Smooth, moist conjunctiva
  • Pale pink color
  • No debris, discharge, or bleeding
  • Clear cornea and surrounding tissue
  • No growths, swelling, or lumps
  • Redness, dryness, or swelling
  • Bumps, lesions, growths
  • Blood vessels or hemorrhages
  • Discharge or exudate
  • Corneal abnormalities
  • Drooping or sagging lids

The eye doctor will look at both the upper and lower conjunctiva for any issues. They may also use staining drops to highlight damaged cells on the ocular surface. Any concerning findings will be followed up with additional examination, testing, imaging, or biopsy to obtain a diagnosis.


Regularly checking the inside of your eyelids is a quick and easy way to monitor your ocular health in between eye doctor visits. Make sure to inspect your conjunctiva about once a month and look for any redness, discharge, dryness, growths, or other abnormalities. See an optometrist or ophthalmologist promptly if you notice any concerning changes to get prompt treatment. With good eye hygiene habits and awareness of your normal eyelid appearance, you can stay vigilant about protecting your vision.