What is a Stye?
A Stye is an inflamed or infected or clogged eyelid gland.
Signs and Symptoms of the Stye?
The most common symptom of a sty is a red painful bump on the inside or the outside of the eyelid. Crusting of the eyelashes and conjunctivitis are often associated signs of a stye. Vision may also be blurred if the sty pushes down on the cornea and changes its shape inducing increased astigmatism.
What Causes a Stye?
Your eyelids have several hundred glands along the eyelash line and inside the eyelids that secrete oils, mucus and tears. Bacteria along the eyelash line will sometimes invade one of these glands and cause an infection and inflammation. This type of stye is called a Hordeolum and is usually quite painful. Some patients have overactive glands which secrete excessive discharge that is excellent media for bacterial growth. These patients tend to have more recurrent stye problems.
In other cases, the eyelid gland can be plugged or inflamed without an infection being present. This is usually a painless lesion and is called a Chalazion. In some cases a hordeolum which is left untreated will progress to a chalazion.
How is a Stye Diagnosed?
Proper diagnosis of a stye requires an examination by an eye doctor who will perform a “slit lamp” (lighted microscope) examination to inspect the eyelids and lashes. Your eye doctor will also palpate your eyelids attempting to find a focal point of pain or swollen bump.
How is a Stye Treated?
The best treatment for a stye is to hot pack the eyelid as soon as the stye appears. Hot packing will cause increased blood circulation to the lesion which delivers bacteria fighting white blood cells. It will also encourage the plugged gland to open. Hot packing with a hot water balloon is the most inexpensive and effective treatment. The hot pack should be used at least four times per day for 15 to 20 minutes. In some cases, the stye can spread infection into the tissues around the eye and cause preseptal cellulitis which is a dangerous condition requiring oral antibiotics.
If the hordeolum or chalazion does not resolve with hotpacking, surgical intervention may be required. This usually involves draining the stye with a needle or physically cutting into it to drain the retained fluids. A recurrent stye in the same area should be biopsied for sebaceous cell carcinoma (cancer).
What Steps Should I Take If I Think I Have a Stye?
Any new growth or eyelid lesion needs to be examined by an eye doctor. We recommend an appointment with Dr. Reinders as soon as possible to diagnose the problem and initiate the proper treatment. Dr. Reinders has 22 years experience in treating styes and other related conditions.