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A Doctor's View on Sty Symptoms and Signs

Read the Comment by Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

Symptoms and signs of a sty include tenderness, pain, redness, and a feeling of irritation. There may also be accompanying sensitivity to light. People with chronic conditions are more likely to develop a sty. Read the entire Doctor's View

What are sty (stye) symptoms and signs?

The symptoms of a sty are

  • foreign body sensation in the eye (particularly with blinking),
  • eye pressure, and
  • pain in the area of the bump, though often they are painless.

There may also be blurred vision if thick sebum or pus from within the sty spreads over the eye's surface.

If chronic meibomian gland dysfunction is present, dry eye symptoms are common. This is because the meibomian glands secrete an oil onto the surface of the eye to prevent the water layer of tears from evaporating too rapidly from the eye's surface between blinks. Therefore, poorly functioning meibomian glands can lead to dry eye.

Signs of a sty include

  • presence of a lump or bump on the edge of the eyelid,
  • redness of the eyelid skin overlying the bump, and
  • swelling and puffy appearance of the eyelid.

If the sty is draining material from the gland's opening, there may be thick discharge or crusty material accumulating on the lids and lashes. In some cases, the skin overlying the sty will become thinned and the thick material within the sty (pus) may ooze out through a break in the skin. Watery tears can also be produced in response to irritation and pain.

Stys can be external, meaning the blocked gland protrudes outward and appears as a visible bump under the skin, or interior, in which the blocked gland protrudes behind or under the eyelid.

Return to Sty

See what others are saying

Comment from: jim, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: January 07

I have a history of sties, but this time it appears to be infected and the majority of the swelling is under my eye under the skin. I'm a little concerned about the infection.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: Anna, 13-18 (Patient) Published: July 09

Pain when blinking is my number one symptom. A bump would appear the next day.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: harvey, Male (Patient) Published: March 19

I am a 30 year old male and I have had a stye since the beginning of January. I have been using antibiotics, but recently I have noticed the appearance of what looks like tiny additional styes on top of the original stye. Very strange, but not painful.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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