You asked, we answered: Causes of eye styes and how to treat

A picture of a man with an eye stye


Answered by optometrist Marie T. Schaaf, OD

A stye, or hordeolum, is an inflamed oil gland caused by bacteria, most commonly staphylococcus, that typically resides on the eyelids. When infected, the gland appears as a red, swollen nodule that is tender to the touch.

A stye will often resolve without any treatment, though to help hasten resolution, I recommend a warm compress with a gentle massage a few times per day. Depending on the severity, I may prescribe an oral and/or topical antibiotic or antibiotic-steroid combination to aid healing.

To help prevent or reduce the frequency of styes, daily eyelid hygiene practice of warm water and mild soap is recommended. You can also utilize commercial eyelid scrubs for this purpose. Additionally, remove any makeup before bed and avoid eye rubbing as much as possible.

You should seek medical attention if the swelling of your eyelid is severe and comprises the entire lid or extends beyond the eyelid to the adjacent facial tissue. Similarly, if your vision is affected, you experience double vision, you have recurrent styes in the same location, or if one doesn’t resolve within a few days, you should seek care.

Call 402.559.2020 to schedule an eye appointment today.