Common eye complaints

Many of us will experience a minor eye complaint at some point in our lives.  They are fairly common and rarely serious.  

Here we take a look at four of the most run of the mill eye problems.

What are Milia?

Commonly found on the face and around the eyes, Milia are a type of cyst and present themselves as pearly-white or yellowish lumps, usually around 1 to 2 mm in diameter.

Milia are most commonly caused by dead skin cells but may equally appear as a result of the long-term use of steroid cream, long-term sun damage, or blistering due to some skin conditions.

In most cases Milia clear up on their own, without treatment, after a few weeks or sometimes a few months.  Your GP can also remove them with a needle, if required.

It is important not to squeeze them yourself as this may cause damage to the surrounding skin.

What is a stye?

A stye is a yellow lump found on or in the eyelid and can be painful.  There is usually swelling and redness to the eyelid and possible redness to the eye too.

Typically as a result of a staphylococcal infection, styes more often than not get better without treatment.  In some cases, however, a medical professional may be able to release the puss from the stye.

The healing process can be helped by applying a warm compress to the affected area.  This could be a clean flannel, soaked in warm water and may be applied whenever necessary to relieve pain.

Read more about styes here.

What is a Chalazion cyst?

Otherwise known as Meibomian or Tarsal cysts, Chalazion cysts are small, fluid filled and found on the upper and lower eyelids.  Typically 2 to 8 mm in diameter, they are fairly common and several can appear at once.

Chalazion cysts can occur when the Meibomian gland, located just below the surface of the eyelid, becomes blocked.  The Meibomian gland releases oily fluid that is used to lubricate the eye but if it becomes blocked then a lump or swelling may result.

These type of cysts will get better on their own but again, a warm compress may be used to relieve pressure and pain.

What is Xanthelasma palpebrarum?

These are plaques of yellow fat that appear around the upper or lower eyelids.

These can be left alone but if diagnosed by your GP they may want to take a fasting lipid levels blood test as they could indicate a lipid disorder.

Xanthelasma palpebrarum can be removed for cosmetic reasons.

When to seek medical help

None of the eye complaints above usually require medical intervention, however, you should seek medical immediately if you experience loss of vision or have pain in or around the eye.

All content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated at all as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Silversurfers will not be responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content on and we are also not liable for the content of any external websites or links from or to Silversurfers to any other websites. Please always consult your own doctor if you’re in any way concerned about any aspect of your health.
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