Eye disease · Overview



Dr. med. Ken Selde

FMH specialist doctor for ophthalmology and eye surgery

Most people have a sty in their eye at least once at some point in their lives. Maybe you’ve already had one, too. Styes are acute painful inflammations of one or more hair follicle glands of the eyelashes in the lid area. They are selectively pressure-sensitive to painful and thus make one uncomfortably aware of them. They can also fester or only be swollen. But what’s the cause of such a sty? And what should I do?


The cause of styes are skin bacteria that settle in the so-called Meibom eyelash glands. The gland exit thereby becomes blocked. The gland nevertheless continues producing its secretion, which now can no longer flow out. The base of the gland is in the so-called cartilaginous lid plate. This plate, which consists of taut collagen fibers, has only limited flexibility. There is thus only a little space for the gland, which is filling up, to expand. It thus swells visibly outward and can reach the size of a barley corn – which is why it is called a “Gerstenkorn” (barley corn) in German. Plus, the expansion into the slightly flexible tissue can hurt.

Especially people with a weak immune system and diabetics frequently suffer from styes.



I have a sty – what should I do?

If the inflammation is recognized by the body’s own immune defenses and encapsulated, it subsides in about half of all cases without problems and there is often a painless, skin-colored, no longer inflamed bump. A chalazion has formed.


In the other cases, the sty moves inward or outward. If the inflammation opens itself outward, it is frequently visible and noticeable. Pus and sometimes even blood flow out. After it opens, pain and swelling disappear quickly.


If you suspect that you’re suffering from a sty, you should come see us in our office. Even though it’s typically harmless, a sty still belongs in professional hands. We can thus find the right therapy for your case. If the sty is properly handled, the risk of needing operative treatment is reduced.


In particular, incorrect treatment can leave behind visible, often ugly traces that can then be removed only by an operation.


If you constantly suffer from styes, you have a chronic eyelid margin inflammation. Here you have to take prophylactic measures. You’ll learn what this looks like in a training in our office – individually adapted to your situation.


Do you have further questions or would you like a consultation with our specialists? Contact us now!