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Eye Health

Updated 13 February 2015

Eyelid infections

In the eyelid, either the meibomian glands along the edges of your eyelids, or the eyelash follicles can become infected, like a pimple on the eyelid.

In the eyelid, either the meibomian glands along the edges of your eyelids, or the eyelash follicles can become infected, like a pimple on the eyelid. Both are common, causes discomfort, looks painful but are not serious.

The meibomian glands become infected when oils from these glands are changed into acid-like compounds which irritate the eye and cause it to turn red. Excess oils encourages bacterial growth and skin irritation, and the formation of scales lead to more irritation.

  • Clean your eyelids at least twice daily with warm water, baby shampoo or a commercial preparation, or oral and topical antibiotics (prescribed by a doctor).

  • Relieve the symptoms by applying a clean, warm, damp cloth over gently closed eyelids two to four times a day for ten minutes.

  • Allergic blepharitis usually improves on its own.

Self Care
Simple home treatment can help them come to a head and resolve more quickly, and a visit to the doctor is not usually necessary.

  • Apply warm compresses to the stye for 10 minutes 5 or 6 times a day until the stye comes to a head and drains. This is most easily done by dipping a clean cloth in warm water and then holding it against the eyelid. Take care not to burn the lid.

  • If you can identify the offending eyelash emerging from the point of the stye, carefully removing it with tweezers will promote drainage and hasten recovery.

  • Do not squeeze the stye before it has begun to drain spontaneously, and then only the gentlest pressure should be applied to help expel the pus.

  • Less severe styes will go away on their own without treatment.

  • The swelling gets worse or does not resolve despite home treatment.

  • The redness spreads to other parts of the eyelid.

  • Styes become recurrent.

  • The swelling is anything other than a stye.

 

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Optometrist

Megan Goodman qualified as an optometrist from the University of Johannesburg. She has recently completed a Masters degree in Clinical Epidemiology at Stellenbosch University. She has a keen interest in ocular pathology and evidence based medicine as well as contact lenses.

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