The Stye from Hell

    If you have ever had a stye you know how uncomfortable they can be. But this one was a huge problem that lasted for 3 weeks.

    A stye is an inflammation and swelling on the edge of an eyelid. It is caused by bacterial infection of the gland at the base of an eyelash. Usually, they resolve in a few days with warm compresses and antibiotics eye drops. Not this time. I actually developed it in Canada over the holiday break. The temperatures were below zero. The drastic changes in temperature from warm indoor to freezing outdoor caused an encapsulation of the stye. In essence I had a huge ball on my eyelid that would not improve with warm compresses or eye drops. I would wake up in the morning with sticky eyes and a swollen and red upper lid. After applying a warm compress the lid swelling improved but the ball did not. I used topical antibiotics and eye drops with no success. My eyelid continued to develop sensitivity and itching.

    I went to a dermatologist twice for hydrocortisone injections to help with the itch and stye. However, the injections only helped the itch. After spending $150 in copayments and wanting the stye drained, I found out the dermatologist does not do that. It turns out an ophthalmologist has to do it and not all of them do. I next made the mistake of seeing my optometrist. I asked before the appointment if it could be drained, they made the appointment and I paid $50 more. Of course, my doctor didn’t so the procedure. So now after missing work time 3x, and paying $200, I still was nowhere. They eye itch was unbearable and I wanted this thing resolved. My doctor managed to get me an appointment with an ophthalmologist within 30 minutes. The office said this doctor did do that procedure. I waited about 1 hour, then went through repeated eye exams which I had done at my own eye doctor. The office staff then said I don’t think he does that procedure. I kept insisting that is why I was there and hoped he could help me.

    Finally, the doctor came in. I told him I tried warm compresses and several antibiotic drops. I told him I was fed up and needed it drained. He understood me and said he was going to see if they had the sterile equipment there so he could help me. Thank goodness, they found the equipment. After inspecting the area he told me I had a clogged gland. He injected my eyelid with lidocaine.

    After a 20 minute wait for the injection, he began the procedure. It is a strange sensation but not painful. The special equipment grasps the stye in a circular clamp while your eyelid is flipped inside out. He created an incision and used a cotton swab to squeeze out the infection. He cleaned it and then applied an eye patch. After waiting 20 minutes to see if I had bleeding, I was ready to go. It probably would have been good to have a driver but I didn’t. It was hard to see with my droopy eyelid but I drove home. My eyelid looked awful and bruised for 2-3 days but the stye was gone and I was happy.

    I had to use ice for the swelling, continued the antibiotic drops and decided several salt water rinses would be beneficial. The salt water rinses helped lubricate my eye and relieve the swelling. Finally, a week later it was all gone. It took 3 weeks and $300 but I definitely learned from the experience. Use salt water rinses early, warm compresses several times a day and if not improving see an ophthalmologist. Make sure they actually can do the procedure before you spend your money. I hope this was helpful.