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Can an Optometrist Treat a Stye?

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A young woman with pain in her left eye, with her hand over the eye

Dealing with any issues that involve your eyes can be stressful. Identifying any issues through maintaining a consistent eye exam schedule is essential. With your eyes’ sensitivity, frequent check-ups with your optometrist are always a good idea.

A stye is one of those eye care issues that can pop up—you’ll want to know if your optometrist can treat it and some of the symptoms. 

Let’s explore what a stye is, possible symptoms of a stye developing, and if your optometrist can treat a stye.   

What Is a Stye?

A stye is a pimple-like red bump that forms on the outside edge of the eyelid. Your eyelids have tiny oil glands, primarily around the eyelashes. A stye can develop if anything like dead skin, dirt, or oil buildup clogs or blocks these small glands. 

When a gland is blocked, bacteria can grow inside, and a stye can develop.

Some symptoms of a stye include:

  • Pain and swelling
  • Increased tear production
  • A crust that forms around the eyelid
  • Soreness and itchiness

These symptoms can appear when a stye is forming. However, another condition with similar eyelid inflammation symptoms can appear called a chalazion.

A chalazion occurs when there’s a blockage in one of the small oil glands close to the eyelashes. While a chalazion is usually not as painful as a stye, the treatment method for both conditions is similar.

A chalazion is much more difficult to resolve, and it may take lid surgery to remove a chalazion. So it is best to manage your stye sooner than later.   

Before diving into treatment methods, let’s look at some risk factors that can contribute to stye development.

Risk Factors

The infection of oil glands forms a stye in the eyelid; maintaining good hygiene practices can help with prevention.

You may be at an increased risk of developing a stye if you:

  • Touch your eyes with unwashed hands
  • Insert your contact lenses without disinfecting them first
  • Leave on eye makeup overnight
  • Use old or expired cosmetics

Practicing some of these good eye care techniques is also a great way to prevent eye infections and improve your overall eye health along with stye prevention.  

A close up of a woman's eye with a stye present

Stye Treatment

A stye usually only lasts about 3 days—the healing process can last about 7 to 10 days as the stye breaks open and drains.

Some at-home treatments for a stye include:

  • Using a warm compress on the stye
  • Cleaning your eyelid with mild soap and water
  • Avoid wearing makeup and contact lenses
  • Massage the area to promote drainage

If the healing process is not going as planned, your optometrist can take a closer look and treat your stye.  

Your optometrist has all the tools and knowledge to deal with a stye in the office if your stye condition gets worse.

It’s wise to contact your optometrist if your stye:

  • Is internal
  • Gets bigger
  • Doesn’t clear up within 3 or 4 days
  • Affects your vision

It’s also a good idea to see your optometrist if your stye issue is reoccurring.

While most stye cases are harmless to your vision and will clear up naturally, your optometrist is in your corner to help deal with it if your stye is stubborn. 

Getting Over a Stye

The appearance of a stye can be uncomfortable—and recovery time can vary. There are steps you can take for at-home treatment. Still, if the stye condition worsens, your optometrist can assist you with getting over a stye. 

Book an appointment with our optometrist today to learn more about possible stye treatment options. 

Written by Kristiena Bobocel

Kristiena joined the Eye Care Group family business shortly after graduation while working on a degree in ophthalmics from NAIT. Over the years, Kristiena has worked in every aspect of the family business, from dispensing glasses and instructing contacts, to cutting and edging glasses and eventually taking on administrative duties.
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