Is that Lump in Your Eye a Chalazion or Stye?

Styes and Chalazion in Eyes

Is that Lump in Your Eye a Chalazion or Stye?

What’s the difference between a chalazion and a stye? If you have a lump on your eye, you may just think it is a stye, and you are probably right, but it could also be a chalazion.

A chalazion and a stye (medically known as hordeolum) are both lumps on the eye, and because the lumps look similar, you may not know which one you have, but once you know the difference in symptoms, it is easy to tell them apart.

A stye is painful, and it usually appears at the edge of the eyelid. This is because it is most often caused by an infection at the root of the eyelash, but it can swell and affect the entire eyelid.

While a stye is painful, a chalazion is not. A lump caused by a chalazion usually develops further back on the eyelid, not at the eyelash rim. A chalazion is caused by a clogged oil gland, and it rarely causes the entire eyelid to swell.

There are a few differences in the symptoms of a stye and chalazion. A stye can cause a scratchy feeling in the eye, and you may find that the eye secretes more tears and forms a crust along the eyelid. A chalazion has fewer symptoms, but the bump may be red and tender, and if it presses on the eyeball, it can cause blurred vision.

What Causes a Chalazion or Stye?

A chalazion can be caused by blepharitis, rosacea, or even an internal stye that is no longer infectious but has caused a blockage in an oil gland. The chalazion is formed by pus and blocked fatty secretions that can’t drain out.

A stye is usually always caused by an infection or inflammation at the base of the eyelash follicle, but there can be many causes of the infection, such as: skin conditions like rosacea or dermatitis, other medical conditions including diabetes, and sometimes simply using old makeup or not removing makeup properly on a regular basis.

Kelowna Treatment for Chalazion and Styes in Your Eyes

While styes are more common in children who are more prone to rub their eyes with dirty hands, chalazion is more common in adults and mostly occurs in people aged 30-50.

The good news is that chalazia and styes usually clear up on their own within a few weeks. However minimal medical treatment will speed the healing process and relieve discomfort.

A recommended treatment for both styes and chalazia is to apply a clean, warm and wet compress to the eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes several times a day until it has healed. The compress helps soften the hardened oil, which can stimulate drainage.

Gently massaging the eyelid to help promote drainage is also recommended, but make sure your hands are clean and keep them out of your eye. And although it may be tempting to squeeze or pop a chalazion to drain it faster, do not do this. It can cause damage to your eye and increase the risk of infection.

If the infection from a stye does not clear up on its own, it’s time to contact your Kelowna eye doctor as a course of antibiotics may be prescribed.

If a chalazion becomes overly swollen to the point where it affects vision, a steroid shot may be recommended to reduce the swelling. And if the stye or chalazion is not going away and is affecting your vision, it may need to be drained surgically. But don’t worry, this is usually done in the doctor’s office and requires only a local anesthesia.

Your Kelowna optometrist can diagnose the symptoms and prescribe the best course of treatment.

Your eye doctor might look into your patient history to make sure this is not a recurring problem and to identify whether there are any other health problems that may be causing eye problems. If you have a history of recurring styes or chalazion, your eye doctor may perform a biopsy to ensure there is not a more serious eye problem.

As always, regular checkups with your eye doctor will catch any problems that could become serious, and help you maintain good vision for years to come.

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