Styes and Your Vision: Understanding Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment Options

A stye is a painful red lump on the eyelid caused by a bacterial infection. If you have one, consult our eye doctor to prevent complications.

Styes and Your Vision: Understanding Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment Options in Olympia

A stye, also known as a hordeolum, is a common eye condition that typically appears as a red, swollen bump on the edge of the eyelid. It is caused by an infection in the oil glands of the eyelid, and can be painful and uncomfortable. Styes can occur on the upper or lower eyelid, and can sometimes cause the entire eyelid to swell. While a stye can usually be treated with home remedies or medication, it is important to seek professional help from our eye doctor if the stye does not improve or begins to affect your vision. With prompt treatment, most styes usually heal within a week or two.

American Family Vision Clinic

Is Stye an Eye Emergency?

In most cases, a stye is not an eye emergency. However, it can be uncomfortable and may affect your vision, so it's important to take care of it properly. If the stye is very large, does not improve after several days, or is accompanied by severe pain, fever, or vision changes, it is important to visit our eye doctor as soon as possible. In rare cases, a stye can lead to complications such as a chalazion or an infection of the surrounding tissues.
To seek medical attention for an eye emergency, please give us a call at (360) 491-2121 to schedule a visit. 

Treatment Options for Styes That Affect Vision

Warm Compresses

Applying a warm compress to the affected eye can help to open up the blocked gland and encourage drainage of the stye. We recommend that patients use a clean, warm washcloth or eye mask and apply it to their eye for 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a day. This treatment option is effective in relieving pain and swelling caused by the stye. It is also a simple and non-invasive treatment that can be done at home.

Eyelid Hygiene

Good eyelid hygiene is essential in treating styes. We advise patients to gently clean their eyelids with a mild, non-irritating soap and warm water twice a day to keep the area clean and free from debris. This can help prevent the development of new styes and reduce the risk of complications.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

If the stye is causing significant pain, we may suggest taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help manage discomfort. These pain relievers can help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with the stye.


In some cases, if the stye is severe or not responding to warm compresses, we may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment to help clear the infection. Antibiotics can help fight the bacterial infection that causes the stye and prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of the eye.


In rare cases, we may need to drain the stye to help it heal more quickly. This is a quick, in-office procedure that involves making a small incision in the stye and draining the pus. This treatment option is usually reserved for large or persistent styes that do not respond to other treatments. Drainage can help reduce pain and swelling and speed up the healing process.

Treatment Options for Styes That Affect Vision
Understanding the Impact of Stye on Vision: Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

Understanding the Impact of Stye on Vision: Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

Swollen eyelid from a stye

A stye is a bacterial infection that typically affects the oil glands in the eyelid. As the bacteria multiply, the infected gland becomes inflamed, leading to swelling in the eyelid. The swelling may be noticeable in the affected eye, and the skin around the eye may also be red and sore.

The swelling can cause the eyelid to feel heavy, making it challenging to open or close the eye fully. It can also affect your appearance, making you feel self-conscious. In some cases, the swelling may be severe enough to cause the eye to look puffy and distorted.

Pain from a stye

Styes can be quite painful, causing discomfort in the affected eye. The pain can vary from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the infection. In some cases, the pain may be worse if the stye becomes infected or ruptures.

The pain may be sharp, throbbing, or aching and can affect your daily activities. It can cause difficulty in blinking, reading, or using a computer or other electronic devices. The pain may also radiate to the surrounding areas of the eye, such as the forehead, cheek, or temple.

Sensitivity to light after a stye

Individuals with styes may experience sensitivity to light or photophobia, especially if the stye is located near the eye's edge. The sensitivity may make it challenging to go outside during the daytime or use electronic devices, such as computers and smartphones.

Photophobia is usually a temporary symptom that improves as the stye heals. However, in some cases, it may persist, indicating that there may be an underlying eye condition that needs to be addressed.


A stye can produce a yellowish or white discharge from the eye, which can crust over the eyelashes. The discharge is usually a sign that the stye is in the acute stage of infection, and the body is trying to fight off the bacteria.

The discharge can be itchy and irritating, making it challenging to keep the eye clean. It is essential to avoid rubbing the eye or picking at the discharge, as this can worsen the infection and lead to other complications.

Blurred vision from a stye

If the stye is located in the eye's edge, it can cause blurry vision. This is because the swelling can affect the cornea, the transparent layer at the front of the eye that helps to focus light. Blurred vision is a concerning symptom that requires immediate medical attention to prevent any further damage to the eye.

While the five symptoms mentioned above are the most common symptoms of a stye, there are a few other less common symptoms that some people may experience. These include:

A gritty or scratchy feeling in the eye

You may experience a gritty or scratchy feeling in the eye, similar to having sand or dirt in the eye. This is because the swelling from the stye can irritate the surface of the eye, causing discomfort.

The sensation may be mild or severe and can make it challenging to perform daily activities, such as reading or driving. It is important to avoid rubbing the eye, as this can worsen the irritation and lead to further complications.


Tearing or watery eyes can be a symptom of a stye, particularly if the stye is located near the inner corner of the eye. The tears are usually a result of the eye's natural response to the infection, which is to produce more tears to flush out the bacteria.

Excessive tearing can cause discomfort, making it challenging to keep the eye clean and dry. It is essential to use a clean, soft cloth to gently wipe away any excess tears to prevent further irritation.

Recurring styes

In some cases, you may experience recurring styes, which can be a sign of an underlying eye condition. Recurring styes may indicate that you have a weakened immune system or are suffering from chronic inflammation.

Recurring styes can cause discomfort and affect your quality of life. It is essential to seek medical attention from our optometrist to identify the underlying cause and prevent further complications.

If you are experiencing any of the above listed symptoms, call us at (360) 491-2121 to schedule an evaluation.

Understanding the Impact of Stye on Vision: Symptoms You Should Be Aware Of

Unraveling the Root Causes of Stye and Its Effect on Vision

Bacterial infection: The primary cause of stye is a bacterial infection. The bacteria that cause stye are usually staphylococcus bacteria, which are commonly found on the skin and in the nose. When these bacteria get into the oil glands of the eyelid, they can cause an infection, leading to stye. Poor eyelid hygiene can make the eyelids more prone to bacterial infections.

Blockage of the oil glands: The oil glands in the eyelids produce a substance called sebum, which keeps the eyelids lubricated. If the oil glands become blocked due to an overproduction of sebum, the blockage can lead to the development of stye. Blockage of the oil glands can also occur due to the buildup of dead skin cells, dirt, or makeup.

Stress and fatigue: Stress and fatigue can weaken the immune system and make the body more prone to infections, including stye. Lack of sleep can also make the eyes more vulnerable to stye.

Use of contact lenses: Wearing contact lenses for an extended period or not cleaning them correctly can increase the risk of developing stye. Contact lenses can trap bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause infections.

Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during puberty, menstruation, or pregnancy, can affect the oil glands in the eyelids and lead to the development of stye.

Immune system disorders: People with immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS, are more susceptible to infections, including stye.

Blepharitis: Blepharitis is a condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids, often due to bacterial infection. People with blepharitis are more likely to develop stye.

Use of makeup: Using expired or contaminated makeup, or sharing makeup with others, can introduce bacteria into the oil glands of the eyelids and lead to stye.

Skin conditions: People with skin conditions, such as rosacea or eczema, are more prone to developing stye due to the inflammation of the skin and increased bacterial colonization.

Eye trauma: Any injury or trauma to the eye, such as a scratch or cut, can increase the risk of developing stye.

It is important to note that while these are some additional causes of stye, bacterial infection and poor hygiene are still the most common culprits. If you experience symptoms of stye, it is crucial to see our eye doctor in Olympia promptly to prevent the infection from worsening.

Preventing Stye: Tips and Tricks from Olympia Optometrist

Here are some tips for preventing styes:

Practice good hygiene: One of the main causes of styes is a buildup of bacteria on the skin. To reduce the risk of infection, it's important to keep your eyelids clean. Be sure to wash your face and eyelids regularly, using a mild soap and warm water. You can also use a warm compress to help unclog the oil glands around your eyes.

Avoid sharing personal items: Styes are contagious, so it's important to avoid sharing items that come into contact with your eyes, such as towels, washcloths, and makeup. If you do share these items, be sure to wash them thoroughly before using them again.

Be mindful of your makeup: Speaking of makeup, it's important to be careful with the products you use around your eyes. Try to use only high-quality products that are designed for use on the eyes, and be sure to remove your makeup at the end of each day. Avoid sharing makeup with others, as this can increase your risk of infection.

Practice good contact lens hygiene: If you wear contact lenses, it's important to be diligent about hygiene. Wash your hands before handling your lenses, and be sure to follow the instructions for cleaning and storing them. Avoid sleeping in your contacts, and replace them as recommended by our eye doctor.

Manage underlying health conditions: Certain health conditions, such as rosacea and blepharitis, can increase your risk of developing styes. If you have a chronic health condition that affects your eyes or skin, be sure to work with your doctor to manage it effectively.

Treatment Options for Styes That Affect Vision
Dr. Zurcher cartoon

Visit Our Optometrist in Olympia for Painful Styes

Are you experiencing the discomfort of a painful stye? Don't let it disrupt your daily life and potentially cause complications. Our optometrist in Olympia has the experience to provide you with the best possible care for styes, helping to alleviate pain and prevent further complications. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling (360) 491-2121 and let us help you see and feel better.

Patients with eye emergencies visit our clinic from all over Washington, and we are proud to be a leading provider of medical and emergency eye care services for patients from Olympia, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Lacey.


Such a nice optician. My grandson is only 4 and needs glasses. We were so sad, but he explained the issues, and we will follow up as he suggested.

Anna P.

I had such a good experience with the clinic. Very friendly staff and doctor, did not have to wait for long to be called, and was treated respectfully. Thanks, American Family.

June S.

Dr. Zurcher has gone above and beyond what any other eye doctor has ever done to figure out what is going on with my eyes. Very happy with American Family Vision.

Christine R.

Family Vision Clinic changed our lives! My daughter was frequently car sick, and she was getting headaches every day, often painful enough that they brought her to tears. We saw a string of doctors and therapists, but we made no progress. Finally, we found Dr. Levi Zurcher and his eye therapist Rain. After ten weeks of eye therapy my daughter no longer gets headaches, and she no longer gets car sick. Daily tears are a thing of the past. I really can’t say enough about this clinic. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Zurcher work. For the first time, someone who knew what they were doing was intently studying my daughter, really trying to figure out all of her eye issues, and his therapist Rain is one of the most patient and lovely people that I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. We’re finished with eye therapy—yay!—and I have switched to American Family Vision Clinic for all of my family’s other eye health needs.

Lars Wulff

Very professional, yet kind and helpful. They do what they can to make the appointment comfortable. I was running a bit late, I made sure ti call. They were able to switch me with a patient who was already there, they treated me with respect, and helped my son have confidence by getting him the eye care he needed that day. Thank you so much! Would recommend to anyone. It's a blessing that they care enough to work with people who have all different types of insurance from work to state coverage.

Justin E.

The staff is friendly. The Doc is very knowledgeable. The office is family friendly and everyone is so patient with the little ones.

Amy Fagerness
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