Common Eye Conditions

Blepharitis, Stye and Chalazion

These three conditions are common causes of swelling of the eyelid. Each may exist independently or otherwise, with one being mistaken for the other.


This is an inflammatory condition of the eyelid and may result from:

  • bacterial infection (usually staphylococcal)
  • allergic reaction
  • abnormal functions of the oil glands in the lid margins, either over-producing or blocked

Risk factors include:

  • poor lid hygiene
  • other eye conditions eg dry eyes, stye, chalazion, conjunctivitis
  • skin conditions eg acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, herpes simplex infection
  • exposure to smoke, fumes, smog and other irritants

Symptoms are:

  • itching or burning sensation
  • swollen eyelids
  • broken skin or flakes along the eyelids
  • missing or ingrown eyelashes
  • excessive tearing
  • light sensitivity

Treatment is geared towards reducing the bacterial infection on the lid margins and opening up blocked glands. This can be done with lid scrubs, hot compresses and topical antibiotic ointment.


Also known as a hordoleum, this appears as a small lump on, inside or under the eyelid or on the eyelashes. It usually results from:

  • bacterial infection (usually staphylococcal)
  • clogging of the oil glands around or inside the eyelids or lashes

There may be associated pain, swelling and pus formation which shows as a yellowish spot in the centre of the stye.

Treatment includes warm compresses and topical antibiotic ointment. In cases of large or abscessed styes, sterile lancing and oral antibiotics may be necessary.


This is a non-infected cyst that forms in the eyelid as a result of blockage of the oil glands within. It appears as a small swelling within the eyelid and may be mistaken for a stye, being red and painful.

A chalazion, however, usually becomes a painless, slow-growing bump which subsides spontaneously within a few months.

It may also become secondarily infected with bacteria or occur as the after-effect of a stye.

Large chalazia may also affect vision by pressing on the cornea.

Treatment includes warm compresses and lid massages in the early stages. Depending on the degree of inflammation, topical or oral antibiotics may be necessary.

A simple excision by a qualified practitioner can also be done for chalazia that persist for 6 weeks or more.