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A stye, otherwise called a hordeolum, is a common problem of the eye that is usually caused by a bacterial infection in one of the small glands on the edges of the eyelids. Sometimes they are found just under the eyelids.{{more}} Children usually get styes from rubbing their eyes with dirty hands, but adults also get them from time to time, and usually it is very difficult to determine how the infection started in the first place. There are reports that show that sometimes styes can come about because of the need for glasses due to strain on the eyes. Reports have also shown that people with recurring styes should also check to rule out diabetes.

A stye looks and feel like a pimple on the eyelid. It can sometimes be painful, and to differentiate a stye from a cyst (another name for a cyst is chalazion), you should tug slightly at the eyelid skin. If the swollen area moves with the skin it is most likely a stye. If it doesn’t, it is most likely a chalazion. Chalazia (plural) are often painless and some styes tend to hurt, especially in the acute phase.

Most styes disappear within a week or so without treatment, but some are very stubborn. The stubborn ones are usually incised and drained by the doctor. Oftentimes topical antibiotics and anti inflammatory eye drops are used. The patient is also asked to apply warm washcloths as a compress to the affected eye usually about 3 to 4 times per day. One is advised not to squeeze the stye even if it comes to a head. There are lots of over the counter remedies available for styes, but the best ones are usually the ones your doctor prescribes.

Dr Kenneth Onu is a resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at the Beachmont Eye Institute/Eyes R Us.

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Tel: 784 456-1210