I Have a Sty in My Eye

What's A Sty?

A sty - sometimes spelled stye - is an acute infection at the base of an eyelash, under or inside the eyelid.  It manifests as a tender, painful red bump and results in an inflammation of the oil or secretory glands of the eyelid.  These glands become blocked and the oil produced by the gland backs up and forms a lump.  A sty may also result from an infected hair follicle at the base of the eyelash.  The cause of the inflammation is a bacterium known as staphylococcus aureus, and it's responsible for 90%-95% of cases of styes - which are also considered to be boils.

Symptoms Of A Sty

At first, the symptoms of a sty are usually redness, tenderness and pain in the eye.  The eye may feel "itchy" or "scratchy" and irritated.  As the sty develops and the condition progresses, symptoms can include swelling, difficulty and discomfort, as blinking of the eye occurs, watery eye and sensitivity to light.  Frequently, a lump appears on the eyelid which can point either outward or inward.  Commonly, a sty appears with a small, yellowish spot at the center of the bump that later develops as pus and expands in the area.  The lump often goes away when the blocked gland is cleared and the opening is relieved.

Styes are very common and people of all ages can develop them - regardless of gender.  There appears to be a slight increase of incidents of styes in people from their 30's to 50's as well as in people with certain chronic conditions such as diabetes.  Stress also seems to be a trigger in people who are susceptible.   People with high levels of blood lipids tend to have blockages in the oil glands which make them more likely to develop a sty.

What Causes Styes?

There are general factors which can contribute to the development of styes which include improper or incomplete removal of eye makeup or use of outdated cosmetics for the eyes, poor eyelid hygiene, stress and hormonal changes.

How Do I Treat This?

General treatment for a sty is the application of a warm compress to the affected area for about ten minutes, four to six times a day.  This serves to relieve the symptoms and help with healing.  A sty should never be pressed or squeezed in order to accelerate drainage.  Should the sty persist for a few days, attendance by a doctor may be necessary.  The doctor can drain and administer the necessary treatment to facilitate healing.