A Stye is a generic term for any kind of lump on the eyelid. The ones our doctors see most frequently develop over a short period of time and cause a red, swollen and painful area on either the upper or lower eyelid.
Styes are caused when one or more oil glands in the eyelid become infected. The area of swelling may be small or large depending on the size of the infection. There are a few different treatments for Styes depending on how severe they are.
Small styes (smaller than a pinhead): Warm moist compresses applied several times per day are the most effective therapy for small Styes.
Medium styes (about 1/4 the size of the eyelid): Warm compresses combined with an oral antibiotic may be used.
Large styes (1/3 to 1/2 the eyelid or larger): These carry a higher risk and should be evaluated by an eye doctor as soon as possible. Sometimes these are big enough to obstruct vision.
Causes of styes: Bacterial growth on the eyelashes is a common source of infection. This can travel up the oil glands internal to the eyelid. Lashes and lids should be regularly cleaned in order to avoid the development of Styes and other associated problems. Some people are just prone to getting frequent Styes and need to be managed proactively with antibiotics and eyelid hygiene. Omega 3 fish oil supplements have been shown to be beneficial in reducing the frequency of Styes.
Book an appointment if you are having any trouble with Styes. Some times what looks like a Stye may actually be a different problem that needs to be managed accordingly. Remember, visits to the optometrist for an eye health concern are typically covered by Alberta Health Care.