A few days ago my right eye felt scratchy and itchy. One peek in the mirror confirmed that it was badly inflamed. Then I spotted the culprit on the rim of my bottom eyelid ― a stye.
You may be scratching your head, asking, “What is a stye anyway?”
A stye is an inflamed swelling on the edge of an eyelid, caused by bacterial infection of the gland at the base of an eyelash.
As many of you know, I grew up in a small fishing village in rural Nova Scotia. The older members of the community had an explanation for everything they could not explain. For a reason that I do not understand, it usually involved bodily functions that we don’t mention in polite conversation. I used to have styes quite regularly which lead to teasing and finger pointing. An old-timer would say, “Aha, I know what you did. You peed on the side of the road.”
If that is the true, every man I know should be sporting a permanent stye.
Then I turned to Dr. Google and my Facebook friends for remedies and I was not disappointed. The advice ran the gamut from the sublime to the ridiculous. Three were more popular than all the others
- A hot compress
- A wet teabag
- A gold ring
How do they work? The warmth and moisture from a compress and a wet teabag use the same method. The moisture softens the skin and the heat allows the stye to burst gently and to drain. As well, they reduce the pain and swelling of the eyelid.
This sounds reasonable, even scientific, to me.
The “Gold Ring Method” was extremely popular but it required further research. I read several articles from reputable sources about this.The conclusion? A gold ring can provide relief, but it has nothing to do with gold. Huh?
According to what I read, one should first rub the ring on clothing to make it warm. It is the warmth and the massaging of the eyelid that encourages healing. A spoon could achieve the same results.
Dr. Google revealed many possible treatments. Please keep in mind that Dr. Google is not a medical doctor and his suggestions should not be followed blindly. (Pun intended.) He or she simply regurgitates information entered by others. I am excited to share a few of them with you ― just for fun, of course.
Rub your stye with the tail of a black cat.
(Seriously? Do you know where has that tail been?)
Simply boil some water and pour it into a cup or bottle. Close your eye and position yourself over the cup so the steam rises toward the stye.
(Sounds reasonable to me.)
Dab castor oil on the stye.
(How could adding more goop to the already clogged eyelash site help the situation? This sounds questionable to me.)
Take a raw potato, cut it in half and put it over the stye. Something in the potato draws out the poison in the stye. Then bury the potato in the middle of a cross-road at midnight. You may need to read this more than once.
(As for me? I’m speechless.)
Collins Vision recommends uncooked rice. Put the rice in a clean sock and microwave it for about a minute.
Massage your eye with it.
(We already know that heat and massage can make a difference.)
Soak a rag in salt water. Put a dab of bleach on it and hold it on the closed eyelid for 5 minutes. Repeat 4 or 5 times a day.
(I would not put bleach anywhere near my eye.)
Tie a black string on your right ring finger and the
stye will disappear.
(Sure, the moon is made of blue cheese and
the tooth fairy lives next door.)
Stand in a doorway and say, “Stye, stye, in my eye; catch the next one that passes by.” (This sounds like a fun Halloween prank.)
One remedy was too disgusting to print, but if you are curious and have a strong stomach, you can read it here.
So which methods did I apply? Mostly, compresses with heat and moisture.
Treatment 1: I used soothing eye drops several times a day.
Treatment 2: I flushed my eye with a gentle saline solution frequently.
Treatment 3: I placed a warm, wet teabag on my eye several times a day.
Treatment 4:I covered my eye with a very warm, wet facecloth at regular intervals.
Treatment 5: I wore a glamourous, warm eye mask.
I employed trial and error rather than the scientific method in my search for a remedy. Regrettably, I did not control the variables. I tried everything at once. A definite failing grade for a science project. I don’t really know which remedies deserve credit.
On the bright side, my stye has healed, but I was not worried. If, for some reason, it had not, I would be asking for a referral to Peterborough Ophthalmologist, Dr. Jonathan Hurst. Why him? Because he was a student in my Grade 4 class many moons ago. Hopefully, he has a tiny, soft spot left in his huge heart for decrepit, dear old Mrs. Clark.
Hey, Dr. Hurst, I’m sure you remember that you were always my favourite student.