A stye, also known as a hordeolum is a localized infectious “abscess” that forms around the margin of people’s eyelids. Sties come from a bacterial infection of an eyelash follicle and or an adjacent sweat- or oil gland in the eyelid margin. The first symptoms of a sty are generally redness, tenderness, and a deep pain in the affected area. The eye may feel irritated or "scratchy" and discomfort during blinking of the eye, tearing, and sensitivity to light are also common findings. A common sign of a sty is a small, yellowish crusty spot at the center of the area of swelling that develops as pus expands in the area. The number one doctor and literature recommended treatment for a stye (hordeolum) is the application of warm compresses to the affected eye.
A Chalazion is basically a “pimple” that forms in the eyelid as a result of the spontaneous blockage of the glands that drain just behind our eyelash follicles. There are cartilagenous plates (called Tarsal Plates) than run across our eyelids and keep them formed. Inside these plates, there are multiple (~20-30) “pillar-shaped” “meibomian” glands that secrete a viscous liquid that protect our ocular surface and help keep our eyes from drying up. These glands’ openings are just behind our eyelashes and can easily be seen under a microscope. In people who develop Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, which is a form of “blepharitis,” the liquid inside these glands get too viscous and doesn’t drain properly. A chalazion is basically a pimple that forms as a result of this backed up gland in the eyelid that gets engorged & inflamed. Besides being very unsightly, this swelling leads to pain, irritation, tearing, and by pushing on the eyeball, even blurry vision due to induced astigmatism. Contrary to common belief, a chalazion is NOT an infection, and this is why they do not respond at all to topical antibiotics or ointments. Over-the-counter ointments and “herbal” remedies are also ineffective for the same reason: they do not do anything to help open the close gland or empty the backed-up content, rather, they just “lubricate” the eye. Chalazia, in their early stages, are best treated using warm compresses to the affected area.
Blepharitis is is an extremely common eye (eyelid) condition which causes crusty, red, swollen, eyelids that burn, and itch. People affected by blepharitis often complain of a foreign body sensation in their eyes when they blink (“like having sand in the eyes”). In severe (chronic) cases, people even lose their eyelashes from this condition. Blepharitis has been associated with a very common skin condition called “Acne Rosacea,” where people suffer from redness of the skin on their cheeks, nose, chin, foreheads, and eyelids, which present as these “spider-like” blood vessels with occasional skin eruptions similar to acne. Blepharitis has been considered one of the most common eye (eyelid) condition in the world. Almost everyone suffers from it at some point in their life, and it has been understood to be the cause of repeated styes and chalazion formation.
Canlaniculitis refers to an infection of the tubes that connect the eye to the “lacrimal sac,” which drains our tears into our noses. There are two very small openings (puncta) in the nasal aspects (closer to our nose) of our eyelids that can even be seen with the naked eye. These are openings of the tubules (canalicula) that are connected to the lacrimal sacs (just on the sides of the bridges of our noses). For unknown reasons, these tubes get infected by either bacteria or fungi (less common) and turn red, swell up and hurt. People often complain of a constant yellowish discharge that comes out from the corners of their eyes. This condition requires antibiotics for treatment, but warm compresses seem to really help relieve its symptoms and speed up recovery.
Dacryocystitis refers to the infection of the “lacrimal sac” which is a bulb-like structure on either side of the bridge of our noses. The lacrimal sac connects our eyelids to our noses, and allows for our tears to flow nicely into the nose. From time to time, usually due to an obstruction of this sac, this structure gets infected and leads to a painful bulge between the bridge of the nose and the corner of the eyes. The definitive treatment of this condition is usually a procedure (e.g., a dacryocystorhinostomy or DCR) that would help drain this fluid into the nose and reestablish flow, but until then, warm compresses seem to really help improve the symptoms from this condition.
Dry Eye Syndrome, also known as Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, and Sjogren’s Syndrome affect millions of people at any given moment. The human cornea is very similar to a dolphin’s skin or the mucosa inside our mouths and behind our lips: it needs to be kept moist at ALL times! Once it dries, it “chaps” and becomes very sensitive: it burns constantly, feels every blink and every slight movement of the eye, it turns red, and becomes very sensitive to light. At the same time, considering over 90% of our ability to focus light comes from the “refractive” power of the Cornea, it is very easy to realize that once it dries, it affects our vision tremendously.
The human cornea has a natural tear “break-up time” of about 8-10 seconds. Multiple studies have shown that people with “dry eyes” (for multiple different reasons) have one or more of these components missing: they either don’t secrete enough “water” (“aqueous deficiency”), they don’t secrete enough mucous (“mucin deficiency”), or they don’t secrete enough “oil” (“lipid deficiency”).
Multiple studies have shown that the application of warm compresses to the eyelids, improves people’s tears’ lipid layer SIGNIFICANTLY. The heat allows the lipid inside our eyelids’ oil glands to “melt away” (like butter melting) and nicely coat the eyes (very similar to applying vaseline to chapped lips).
The application of warm compresses to the eyelids has been recognized as the “mainstay of treatment” for a great number of extremely common eye conditions (e.g., Sties, Chalazia, Blepharitis). The practice of applying warm compresses to the lids, and washing the eyelashes with baby shampoo has been supported by a multitude of scientific studies to be the most effective treatment toward these conditions. Eye-presses are self-heating, reusable warm compresses that have been specifically designed for use on the eyes; they have been cleared by the FDA for over-the-counter sales across the United States.