After a couple days of an annoying, often painful and swollen bump on your eyelid, it is possible that our optometrist will diagnose you with having a stye. In the general population, this term is often misused as an umbrella term for all eyelid bumps but there are different glands and components of the eyelid affected in these various diseases. Here are some of the major conditions that often get confused with styes and their important treatment methods.
This condition is what optometrists are often referring to when labelling a bump as a stye. This is an infection of a gland in the eyelash follicle that produces oil to lubricate the lashes. The bump is located on the edge of the eyelid, near the eyelashes, and can cause swelling of the eyelid surrounding it.
The treatment for this condition will often include a warm compress with lid massage and a topical/ oral antibiotic. Our optometrist may remove the eyelash that is affected (these grow back in time) and if needed, drainage of the fluid or surgical removal can be done.
The key treatment method in this condition is the warm compress, which is helpful for draining the contents of the stye. Make sure not to use just a warm towel, as these do not hold heat for a sustained period of time. We recommend using a heatable/ microwavable warm compress as they retain heat better. This treatment will need to be several times a day until resolution, then once a day indefinitely to help with dry eye symptoms and keep the fluids in the glands flowing.
Internal hordeolums are often confused with styes because the pain feels similar and they are also located on the eyelid. However, these are infections and abscess that occur in meibomian glands, which secrete oils that are used in your tears to help prevent evaporation.
Similarly, when the ducts get clogged up, more fluid may still be produced but unable to exit the gland. In both of these conditions, poor lid hygiene or chronic inflammation of the eyelids/ lashes are often associated. These bumps are often on the inside of the eyelid and not as visible as styes. A bump can often be felt upon pressing on the lid.
The treatment is the same for this condition, with hot compresses being a major treatment method, followed by lid massage. As before, the warm compress is key for assisting in draining the abscess. Antibiotic eye drops or ointment may be given if the abscess is not draining out or if the eyelashes are also affected. Oral antibiotics may be needed if the abscess is not resolving with a warm compress.