Rise in Styes and Chalazia Amidst the Pandemic

image of a lady's eyes who has an eye stye

Have you ever gotten a painful little pimple on your eyelid margin? What about a big red lump on your eyelid? These are called styes (acute infectious process) and chalazia (inflammatory process), which result from blocked up oil glands within the eyelids.

In normal healthy eyelids, oil is produced within these glands and contributes to your tear film. When the oil glands get blocked, this leads to decreased oil production and increased likelihood that you will develop an infection or inflammation (stye or chalazia) within the blocked off gland. It also leads to the nuisance of dry eyes!

During the pandemic, ophthalmologists saw a rise in the number of patients presenting for styes and chalazia. This has been attributed to mask wear, which creates a humid environment with increased bacteria near the eyes, and increased touching near the eyelids to rub your eyes due to dryness or adjust your mask. Additionally, stress is a component in inflammatory processes, and stress levels have been higher due to the pandemic.

Ways that you can prevent styes and chalazia from forming: wash your cloth masks frequently, wear a small piece of tape over the bridge of your nose to prevent air from flowing upward, and use hot compresses on the eyelids for 1-2 minutes at least a few times per week. I recommend the Bruder mask, which is about $20 on Amazon. Remember to apply upward pressure to the lower eyelids immediately after removing the mask to effectively squeegee the liquified oil from your glands (what we call “eyelid expression.”) And don’t worry if your vision gets a little blurred temporarily after expressing – this just means that oil is coming out of your glands like it should be!

Ways in which we treat styes and chalazia in our clinic: we have a myriad of tools in our proverbial box to help you achieve relief of your styes and chalazia. Whether it is education, an injection into the lesion, incision and drainage of the lesion, or excision of the lesion, we will work towards complete resolution followed by maintenance to prevent further lesions from forming.

Click here for more information on styes, chalazia, blepharitis and dry eyes. And if you are suffering from any of these problems, please call today for an appointment!