A stye is a painful, reddish bump of the edge of the eyelid. It is similar to an acne pimple and forms when the oil glands near the eyelashes get blocked and infected. Styes are quite a common condition and most of the time can be managed at home. Sometimes, however, the infection in the stye subsides but the bump remains. This painless bump is known as a chalazion and may need a small procedure at a doctor's clinic to remove it.
We see quite a few patients with a stye and it does appear that when we connect their eye condition to a word they have already heard they understand better. Its called Aanjani in Hindi and is also referred to by the same name in Gujarati.
Each eyelid margin has a row of eyelashes. The eyelashes arise from a hair follicle. Just behind the row of eyelashes are tiny openings of meibomian glands. These meibomian glands are like oil glands or sebaceous glands. These meibomian glands are located in the Tarsal plate in the eyelid. The oil secretion from these glands spreads over the tear fluid on the front surface of the eye and prevents evaporation and dryness.
There may be minor differences in the way they appear. One is more superficial while one is situated a little deeper within the lid. However, from a patient's point of view, they are both painful bumps in the eyelid.
Stye in eyelids is caused because of the openings of these oil glands and hair follicles getting blocked. This blockage can happen because of
A stye occurs due to an infection of the
The stye could thus be located on either the upper or the lower eyelid and anywhere on it. Some of our patients say that their swelling is in the corner of the eyelid and thus should not be a stye. That is not true and a stye can occur anywhere on the eyelid.
The first and most troublesome symptom is pain. The pain usually starts before the lump is visible. However many patients notice a yellow dot. This is the opening of the infected area on the skin.
Here are some common symptoms
"Is this Stye in eye contagious ?" This is a very common question we get asked.
A stye is definitely not contagious.
In other words, if someone with a stye looks at another it's not like this other person is going to get a stye.
Most of the time a stye subsides and disappears. Sometimes this happens without any treatment and happens on its own. Most of the time however treatment is necessary. About 20% of the time a stye turns into a chalazion. Chalazions usually have to be treated.
A stye is an acute infection. As mentioned earlier, it is a painful red bump and appears tense. This is because at this time it is like an abscess. There is an active infection in the stye.
However, because of body defences and also the stye treatments, the infection gradually dies down. As it dies down pain and swelling reduce. The skin also gets back its normal appearance.
Sometimes the swelling does not go completely. There is still a small or large lump present in the lid. This painless lump which is a sequela of a stye is called a chalazion.
When one has a stye the following should be avoided
Stye management includes
A chalazion is a painless lump in the eyelid. It is a sequela of a stye. Usually, a chalazion does not go away and needs to be removed.
It is removed by a procedure called incision and curettage. Here, after administering local anesthesia to the region, a small incision is made at the backside of the eyelid. Thus, there is no incision on the skin. The contents of the chalazion are scooped out. The incision is not sutured and the wound heals on its own.
Because of the anesthesia and the procedure some lid swelling persists for a few days.
After the surgery, the patient is asked to apply an antibiotic ointment and continue the hot water fomentation for a few days.
There is no cosmetic deformity after the procedure.
Sometimes steroid injections are given into the chalazion and surgery can be avoided. One must be very careful with this injection because sometimes the bolus of the steroid can stay in the eyelid and cause another set of issues.
There is a condition called meibomitis. This is nothing but infection of the meibomian glands. It occurs because of poor hygiene of the eyelid margins. Meibomitis is a precursor to a stye. It thus becomes important to treat meibomitis.
Treatment is somewhat similar to a stye treatment.
Even though we may stop the ointment usage after 1-2 weeks it is important that one continues the hot fomentation for longer periods of time to prevent styes from recurring.
Some patients come in with recurrent styes. Usually, these are recurring styes and there is nothing more to it. One may even get multiple styes in a row. Sometimes, however, these are not styes and may point to something more sinister. If a stye is recurring at the same location your eye doctor may suggest a biopsy of the area. This biopsy is suggested because your eye doctor may suspect a malignant eyelid condition. Of course more often these are benign eyelid lesions but it is important to confirm the diagnosis with a biopsy.
Cataract surgery is the commonest eye surgery performed worldwide. One of the most dreaded complications of cataract surgery is an eye infection. It's important to rule out styes or chalazions or meibomitis before performing cataract surgery for this very reason. Today, cataract surgery is performed by inserting a lens or an IOL in the eye. If these precautions are taken before surgery cataract surgery remains a very safe procedure to undergo.