Consulting With Your Eye Doctor: The Difference Between A Stye And A Chalazion

Styes are a fairly common condition of the eyelid. Most people will get a stye at least once in their lifetime. A similar, and less well-known problem is the chalazion. A chalazion is a sebacious collection underneath the skin of the eyelid. Some can be very small an barely noticeable, while others are so large they can be confused with a stye. Here is how an eye doctor can tell the difference:

Location of the Lump

Styes are always located on the edges of the eyelid and nowhere else. The reason for this is that they develop from a blocked eyelash follicle. The oil that tends to lubricate the eyelashes mixes with the dirt and bacteria washed out with your natural tears and gets stuck in the duct. This is also why many styes are located very close to the upper and lower tear ducts.

Chalazions, on the other hand, can be located anywhere on your eyelids, but more often than not are found on your upper lid. Because they, too, are blockages in the oil glands, they appear puffy, but instead of red and inflamed, they are white and misshapen. They form when there is a lot of dirt or dust and fatty oil build-up on the lid.

Amount of Pain Felt

A stye is always irritating and painful. It makes your affected eye water excessively because your body is trying to wash out the infection. As you continue to rub the stye, it may even cause your whole eye to turn bloodshot and you will feel as though you have pink eye when you do not. A chalazion, despite the blocked oil gland involved, will not be painful at all. Even chalazions that have become so large that your vision is blocked are rarely painful.

Different Approaches to Treatment

Your doctor, after diagnosing the stye or chalazion, will have different treatments for these eye problems. A stye typically goes away on its own after a few days, but you can hasten its irritating departure by alternating moist, warm compresses with cold compresses. The warm compresses open up the blocked hair follicle and help it to drain while the cold compresses bring down the swelling and reduce pain and irritation.

Chalazions need help draining because the matter inside is thick and sticky, like a zit. Usually, your eye doctor will carefully poke them with a sharp, sterile instrument and squeeze gently until everything is squeezed out. Once the chalazion is empty, that spot on your lid will heal completely and it will be as though nothing was ever there.

To learn more, contact a professional such as Peters Richard OD with any questions or concerns you have.