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A stye (or hordeolum) is an infection of one of the oil glands in the eyelids, and patients of all ages can be affected. In addition to pain around the infected gland, styes can also cause irritation to the eye surface, and without proper medical attention from a skilled optometrist, the infection can eventually spread to other areas of the eye. As an experienced and trusted eye doctor in Culpeper VA, Dr. Miles Press helps patients relieve the painful symptoms caused by styes and prevent the spread of infection by using advanced treatment options tailored to the needs of each patient.
Styes form when bacteria enter an oil gland inside the upper or lower eyelid. Once inside the oil gland, the bacteria multiply and cause an infection. Inflammation of the gland causes a pimple-like lump to form, either on the outside of the lid or on the inside. The lump is filled with pus, and it can be quite painful. Styes may occur more commonly in people with inflammatory diseases of the eyelids, in those who use old or contaminated makeup or who don’t remove their makeup properly, and in people who don’t cleanse their eyelids regularly. Hormonal changes and chronic or acute stress can also contribute to sty formation in some people.
The most common symptoms of styes are pain or burning sensations as well as redness and swelling in the eyelid and general irritation of the eye. Many styes cause a foreign body sensation - the feeling that an object is poking the eye.
Some styes can be managed with the application of warm compresses to help “unblock” a pimple so symptoms can be relieved. However, because a stye can harbor harmful bacteria, it’s always a good idea to see an eye doctor to prevent more serious complications that can compromise your vision and your eye health. Diagnosis and treatment begin with an eye exam to evaluate the stye and to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment may include eye drops to protect the eye from additional irritation, pain medication to relieve symptoms and inflammation, or antibiotics to kill bacteria and prevent the spread of infection. Very large styes may need to be drained to relieve symptoms and prevent interference with vision.
One of the best ways to prevent styes is to avoid rubbing or touching your eyes. When you rub your eyes, bacteria on your hands can enter the eye and cause a stye to form. If you must touch your eyes (such as when inserting contacts), be sure to thoroughly wash your hands first. Never share eye makeup or contact lenses or lens containers. And of course, it's also important to see your optometrist at the first sign of eye pain or discomfort.
Dr. Press is skilled in diagnosing and treating styes and other eye problems. If you have pain in your eyelid or in any area of your eye, it’s critically important to schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor near Culpeper as soon as possible. To schedule your exam, call Eye Care of Virginia at 540-822-0113 today.