What is a Stye?
A stye is an inflammation of a gland at the eyelid. It develops fairly quickly; Usually over a day or two.
What causes a stye? It is a bacterial infection within the skin usually caused by the gland closing up. The gland closes and the bacteria and body oils get backed up. The medical term for a stye is a hordeolum.
It is at the eyelid and not the eye ball itself. Thus, it should not cause vision changes such as vision loss, blurred vision or light sensitivity.
Quickcare or ER?
A simple stye with no eyeball involvement can be seen in the clinic
Red Flags that will send you to the ER
- Eye ball pain.
- Vision changes.
- Swelling that extends around the eye or to the entire face.
What was your experience with a stye?
What will your doctor ask?
What are your symptoms?
Remember, symptoms are your description of your condition to your doctor. It is your story.
How long have you had it?
What makes it bigger or smaller?
Have you noticed any discharge (pus)?
Most importantly, are there any vision changes? This would suggest that the eye ball is affected. Not just the eyelid.
Key point is if the swelling is on the outside (at the eyelid) or does it involve the eyeball too.
What will your doctor look for?
Your doctor will look for signs.
Remember, signs are objective findings that a doctor sees on exam.
The most important thing to look for are the eyes themselves. Are they moving in all directions? Do the pupils open and close with the light?
Now, look at the outside of the eye, at the lid. Is it red and swollen? Is there pus coming out of it? Is it only on the lid or does it track into the entire face?
What is your doctor thinking?
Your doctor will create a mental list of possible reasons for your signs and symptoms. This list is called a a differential diagnosis. That is, your doctor will think of other things it could be besides a stye.
One supervising doctor of mine said, “Dr Reyes. You do not get paid for the obvious diagnosis. You get big bucks for looking for what else it could be” That took me many years to figure out. What else can it be?
If the infection is in the eye, then it could be conjunctivitis. Really bad infections in the eye include, scleritis
What about the outside of the eye? Severe infections around the eye are periorbital cellulitis♠
If the swelling has been there a long time, then it is called a chalazion.
What is the treatment of a Stye?
Stye treatment is with antibiotics. I like to use a combination of both cream and oral antibiotics. The antibiotic cream (Bacitracin) is to be only placed on the lid – not the eyeball. The cream is to be placed twice a day.
Usually, I will prescribe an oral antibiotic such as Keflex which is take 4 times per day
One added regimen are hot compresses. The heat soothes the inflammation and helps to open up the glands on the eyelid.
How long will you be sick?
Usually with the antibiotic cream and antibiotic pills, most persons are better in less than a week.
It seems like it takes forever since the inflammation is sitting right in front of them.
Let me tell you a story
Ira was a very pale, thin teenager with bushy curly hair. He was visiting our clinic in Northern California from Los Angeles with his mother.
At first they were reluctant to visit a strange clinic with an unknown doctor. I think they were surprised to know that, yes, we do have paved streets in our little Hollister township.
“I got this thing on my eye. I keep getting them,” says Ira. “Someone said I had a ‘Stye eye’ or ‘eye stye’ ”
Before getting to the medical problem at hand, I always like to ask young people what is in their future. What do you want to become? Where do you want to go to college? Too many times, young people do not even considered their future. I have to tell them,” You are not going to young forever.”
Sometimes these questions throw them off. They are not expecting it from a doctor’s office. I then go on to say, ” I hate to tell you this but in the blink of an eye, you will be forty.”
“Music. I want to study music. The piano to be exact,” said Ira. His mother beamed.
“Well, let’s get your eye fixed and get you back to your keyboards, ” I said.
As a piano player myself, I beamed along with his mother.
I hope this helps