A stye is very similar to a pimple, except that it occurs on the edge of your eye lid and is caused by the staphylococcal bacteria, which everyone has in their body. Most people will get one or two styes in their lifetime. A stye forms either inside or on the outside of your eyelid.
Usually styes are not dangerous and will not usually cause vision changes. They may cause discomfort, pain, red eyes, swelling of the eyelid and even the eyeball. Most styes heal on their own, if left alone, within a few days. Doctors recommend warm compresses for five to ten minutes, three or four times per day, for a few days. This causes the stye to release pus, which will drain away and clear up symptoms quicker. Never try to burst a stye. It will burst on its own.You should also keep your eye clean to prevent crusting.
See your doctor if…
While usually an eye doctor visit is not indicated with styes, there are situations when your eye doctor is better equipped to ease your discomfort. If the stye is inside the eyelid, it may not rupture and heal as easily. This can be more serious. Your eye doctor will rupture it so it can drain and heal. If you have a stye on the outside that is particularly painful, seeing your eye doctor could speed the healing process and bring faster relief.
As noted above, most people will experience one or two styes in their life. However, if you develop styes frequently, your eye doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment that will prevent further breakouts. Additionally, you may have other conditions that may make your stye worse, and seeing your eye doctor is recommended. See your eye doctor if you have a stye conjunctivitis, redness and inflammation on the front of the eye. If you have blepharitis, (redness around the rims of your eyelids and swelling) and a stye, see your eye doctor.
Complications that can be serious
Serious complications with styes are rare, but should not be ignored. A stye on the inside that does not heal can develop into a chalazion, also known as meibomian cysts. While painless, they can cause infection and require antibiotics.
Another complication is preseptalcellulities. This occurs if the infection that caused your stye spreads to other tissues around the eye. It causes redness and swelling, and requires antibiotics.
While typically a nuisance that usually heal on their own, styes can be painful and cause other complications that require a visit to your eye doctor.