A stye, also referred to as chalazion, forms when an oil-producing gland in the eyelid called the meibomian gland becomes enlarged and the gland opening becomes clogged with oil.
Styes tend to develop farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes. Often larger than stye, a chalazia usually isn't painful. It is not caused by an infection from bacteria, and it is not a cancer. Sometimes, when a stye doesn't heal, it can turn into a chalazion.
- A red bump along the edge of the eyelid at the base of the eyelashes, usually with a small puss spot in the center
- A feeling as if something is in your eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Crusting along the eyelid margin
Soak a clean washcloth in hot water and apply the cloth to the lid for 10 to 15 minutes, three or five times a day until the chalazion or stye is gone. You should repeatedly soak the cloth in hot water to maintain adequate heat. The warm compress should allow the clogged gland to open and drain white or yellow discharge. If the gland opens, gentle massage around the stye or chalazion may help drainage.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Meibomian glands are oil producing ducts on the eyelids. The oil produced holds onto tears on the eyes to keep them well lubricated. There are approximately 50 glands on the upper eyelids and 25 glands on the lower eyelids that secrete oil into the tear film. The oil layer is important to prevent evaporation of the tear film, and prevent dryness and irritation. When there is a blockage of the meibomian gland, known as meibomian gland dysfunction, it can cause dry eye syndrome, which presents with symptoms such as irritation, dryness, tearing and sometimes is associated with blepharitis.
An antibiotic ointment may be prescribed if bacteria infect a chalazion, or if a stye does not improve after treatment with warm compresses or if it keeps coming back.
A steroid (cortisone) injection is sometimes used to reduce swelling of a chalazion.
If a large chalazion or stye does not heal after other treatments or if it affects your vision, your Eye M.D. may need to drain it in surgery. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia in your ophthalmologist's office.
For more information on Blepharitis and Styes, see our patient education brochure, here.
(C) 2011 American Academy of Ophthalmology. Used by Permission