I am one of those people who incessantly scratch, poke, rub their eyes. It may be a form of habit or simply because of allergic rhinitis. I’m also not really the vain type of girl, I’m not really conscious and meticulous when it comes to making an extra effort in taking care of myself. So eye scratching and rubbing are just some of the things I unconsciously do. Luckily, I’m never prone to eye redness, sty and infections so there’s more reason to scratch and rub away. But all that changed after a sty incident last December, suddenly there’s the urge to control unnecessary eye touching which has become a conscious habit of mine.
A sty is an acute infection of the secretory glands of the eyelids.
This common infection results from blocked glands within the eyelid. When the gland is blocked, the oil produced by the gland occasionally backs up and extrudes through the wall of the gland, forming a lump (chalazion), which can be red, painful, and nodular. Frequently, bacteria can infect the blocked gland, causing increased inflammation, pain, and redness of the eye, and even redness of the surrounding eyelid and cheek tissue. The medical term for sty is hordeolum.
The lump can point externally (outward) or internally (inward). Frequently, the lump appears with a visible whitish or yellowish spot that looks much like a large pimple. Usually, one obvious area of swelling is apparent on one lid, but many styes can appear on one or both eyelids simultaneously.
The lump frequently goes away when the blockage of the gland opening is relieved. Furthermore, the infection goes away when the pus is drained from the sty.
So I had a sty the day after Christmas of 2011. I didn’t bother me at first because it was tiny and not even itchy, only red and lumpy. So the usual eye ointment, hot compress and the attempt to pluck an eyelash (sadly, the sty was in the corner most part of my eye where no eyelash is in sight) to relive the blocked gland didn’t relieve the redness & lump, the sty is there. I’ve actually had a few sty incidents before but I never touched it, nor do remedies to it then after a day or two it just disappears on its own. But since our trip was only two days away from the sty sighting, I somehow wanted the disappearance to be a little bit faster. After a day of slight redness and lump my sty got worse. It was as if my left eye had been bitten by an insect (bee, ant or even cockroach), it was horrible like a sty I’ve never seen in my entire life. More eye ointment, hot compress every 3 hours for 15 minutes and thorough cleansing of my eye with Physiogel and still nothing happened.
The day of our flight came and I woke up feeling nothing, no pain, no sensation on my left eye. No sign of a sty except that I can’t completely open my eye, as if something’s blocking. To my horror, I see my left eye almost half-closed (imagine being kirat). There was no way for me to go to a hospital since our flight is a few hours away. So I had no choice but to pack my sty-emergency kit along with me.
Fast forward to day three of our trip and my left eye was almost closed. The now huge sty won’t pop and was harder than the usual pimple. So we had to go to an ophthalmologist to have it checked.
The staff were so accommodating they immediately had me checked and made a diagnosis soon after I removed my shades. Doctor said the sty definitely needs to be drained since it’s been five days since it appeared and the size is getting bigger rather than the opposite. The ophthalmologist first examined my eye making sure there’s no other complications and planned the procedure on how to properly drain the pus.
Here’s a not-so-friendly look on my sty the night before we went to Mount Elizabeth Hospital. Warning: it is gross! So I took the liberty to edit the photo via Instagram.
See how totally swollen my eye is? It’s more obvious if I open my eyes. I had to be given a shot (make that a few) of anesthesia on my left eyelid because of how painful it felt with just a slight touch of it. After the doctor drained the pus (sorry for how detailed it is but that’s just how it is), blood eventually followed flowing like tears. Of course my husband was watching and with me during the entire procedure, he saw me was crying like a baby until eventually I felt nothing. After the procedure the doctor checked on my tear duct just incase there’s a sty/cyst forming inside that may cause blockage. She inserted a small needle like contraption inside my tear duct, I tell you it is VERY painful. Funny though that the instrument isn’t even sharp, rather has a curve like edge but when it was inserted on my tear duct it was painful like someone’s trying to rip my eye open!
That is the day my husband and I found out that our tear duct is connected to our throat (not that it’s unknown, but that clarifies it). A shot of anesthesia and water was injected to my tear drop just to make sure it had no blockage and a few seconds after I felt the anesthesia and water running down my throat. Cool! No, not really, a few minutes after that my throat became numb and swallowing was a bit of a challenge.
Now to be honest, I’m very much cautious when it comes to touching my eyes, I haven’t worn eye make up for a month now and I have still yet to go to an ophthalmologist to have my eye check just in case there’s still something in there. For now, I’m focusing on my second pregnancy so my eye check up will have to wait for another month or so until then, no scratching, poking, rubbing of eyes for me. Lesson learned that I will forever remember, don’t take your body and health for granted. Most of the time, it pays to really pay attention to your body, be cautious to signs and symptoms it gives you and if something is unusual then that clearly is a sign to have it checked as soon as possible.
Again, thank you to the staff and to Dr. Lynn Yeo of Eagle Eye Center for doing a great job with my eye and for being patient with me and my low tolerance for pain attitude.
Visit her website Dr Lynn Yeo, she is also known to do procedures for Cataract and LASIK services.