I was living in Thailand and I got an eye infection randomly.
Honestly, I’ve only EVER gotten eye infections in Thailand. Same with styes and other weird eye ailments. Only in Thailand – UGH.
It was bad. Real bad.
No problem I thought, I just needed to take it easy and let this one heal on it’s own as they’ve done in the past.
Except it didn’t.
It got a bit better for a few days, only to come back with a vengeance. My whole eye swelled up AGAIN, both my upper and lower eyelids for my right eye. Making them loopy looking and VERY uncomfortable.
I gave it a week to heal from this new state, since that was the normal amount of time in the past that these sort of things went away on their own.
It did not get better.
Seeing a a Useless Thai Doctor
So lucky for me, I had to rely on the Thai medical system for help me (I’m being sarcastic if it’s not obvious). I went to see a Thai doctor in Ratchaburi Thailand.
He took a 1 minute look at my eye, no consultation, no telling me what I should be doing to take care of my eye, no soap, no hot pack, no eye car tips.
He just prescribe me medication and charged me a lot of money for his time. I was mad as hell. A minute or so and none of my questions answered yet I had to pay for his time. What an incompetent “doctor.”
I had to rely on Google and countless forum posts from online idiots for answers. Also, my searches keep referring me to pages for infants and 1 year old’s. Eye infection for 2 months = pages for 2 month old babies. I was really on my own here!
This post is quite long, so I’ll cut to the chase here and give you by best eye care tips upon dealing with a chalazion and a major eye infection:
Eye Care Tips
Doctors in Thailand are 100% incompetent (sorry, but it’s true). They don’t even understand what blepharitis is. I literally had an eye doctor tell me my eyes were “dirty.” Idiot.
It’s a eye condition caused by the bacterial infection not because I don’t clean my eyes.
Step 1 – See a Qualified Doctor and get medication ASAP
If I had been in the United States this would have resolved itself in a week or two, not an entire year. You’re going to want to be prescribed:
Anti biotic eye drops – You apply eye drops 3 times a day for 5 to 7 days as prescribed.
Anti biotic eye ointment – After washing your face, you apply a cream to your eyelid every night for 5 to 7 days.
Doxycycline – This medication has a wide usage. For eye infections it reduces the swelling and redness. Making your eyes less loopy and weird looking.
Step 2 – Get a hot pack for your eye
You’ll want to get a hot pack and apply that regularly as much as possible to your eye. AT least 10 minutes a day, once or twice a day.
You want to do this because an infection complicates the glands in your eyes and you could end up with a horrible chalazion that will take months if not a whole year to go away.
A hot pack helps prevent chalazions and promotes blood flow and white blood cells to fight your infection:
If you notice that after applying the hot pack your eye gets worse, then you have an underlying infection that has not healed as the swelling is due to your white blood cells fighting the root cause of your eye ailment.
Step 3 – Ocusoft
Ocusoft is soap for your eyelids. It’s an excellent choice to use while in the shower. Since you’re exposing your eye to hot water your pores will open up. This helps keep your eyelid clean but also promotes healing.
It’s not a magic solution obviously, but combined with medication from a real, quality American doctor (not some jackass Thai doctor) and a hot pack. It will make a big difference.
Back to the story…
What the “doctor” prescribed
What he prescribed specifically was Vigamox and an anti bacterial eye ointment and told me that I’m a foreigner and that I’m not used to Thailand. I Told him I worked at a university here and have been in Thailand for almost 4 years (at least 6 months a year in Thailand – the last 2 years full time because of a job).
My faith in this doctor being able to help me was totally lost. He did not seem to know or care about my eye problem; and simply telling me that I’m not Thai and that’s why I got an eye infection so severe made me skeptical (obviously).
He scheduled a follow up for me 10 days later, I actually went.
With ZERO improvement in my eye condition, he simply prescribe me more and different expensive medication without even giving me an eye exam and tried to charge me for his time.
Now I’m annoyed.
I complained to the hospital staff and told them that I’m not paying any more money as I’m not an ATM. I don’t just come here to spend money pointlessly while not getting any actual help or improvement.
I already paid a lot for Vigamox and the 1 minute “consultation” previously. It did not help, I came back here expecting more help and it’s the same story. Takes a 1 minute look at my eye, tells me nothing of what to do, and simply tries to charge me a lot of money for more medication.
Just because I’m not Thai does not mean I’m stupid or that I have all this money to spend on pointless eye medication.
The hospital staff relented and said I did not have to pay but asked me how to improve their service. Which I happily explained to them.
The 2nd Doctor in Ratchaburi
By this time the swelling had gone away BUT I was left with these bumps in my eyelid.
Bangkok hospital is an expensive private hospital, so I thought they would have decent staff. Boy was I wrong! So I asked my Thai friends and former colleagues from the university I worked at previously who they would suggest. They recommended me a 2nd doctor in the town who was 100% better.
He actually gave me a proper eye exam and prescribe me anti-biotics and told me that I had chalazions in my eye lid and that they would go away on their own. I just needed to be patient.
I trusted this doctor a lot more because he told me it was stupid to prescribe me Vigamox and that sort of medication was over-kill. He also examined my eye in depth and told me what was wrong.
In retrospect, he was as useless as the first.
He should have given me a hot pack and told me to apply to my eye. He should have been able to explain why my eye got worse upon apply that hot pack.
Instead, he just told me it will go away some day. Idiot. Anyone can tell me that.
He also said the chalazions were also too small to remove and I just had to wait on that front as well.
I was not happy about that. I make YouTube videos. I really needed my eye to be normal again. At this point it had been 3 months, with my eyelid bumpy, red and bubbly looking from the chalazions.
It was annoying being constantly asked “hey what’s wrong with you eye?” Also, I have nice eyes too and it effects my appearance in the worst possible way. Making me look weird and worst of all, if effects my online work directly. I can’t create videos or courses. Maybe a few voice over videos but it’s important to get in front of the camera.
But wait I did.
I gave it a month, things got better slightly. Upon returning to the eye doctor he directly asked me “why are you here again.” Gee, my eye had been messed up for 4 months now. I’m pretty sure that that’s not normal.
So I left and started giving up. I’m just going to have to wait until I go home in June (it was December at this time) to see a proper American eye doctor since I seem to have a never ending eye infection.
Rutnin Eye Hospital Bangkok
Since the time for me to go to the United States was so far into the future, I decided to at least checkout Bangkok to see if there were any places worth going to. As an American, I’m always skeptical of medical care in countries like Vietnam or Thailand, but I can say without a doubt that Rutnin is an excellent place to go if you ever have any eye issue and are in Thailand.
The only issue with this hospital is the wait times because it’s the place anyone with cash goes to. The eye doctor here told me the same story, that I had 3 chalazions in my eye. Only this time, she instructed me how to properly take care of my eye and told me that one of the chalazions was large enough that it could be removed through an incision if I wanted.
“Oh yea, can’t wait to do that” I thought. I almost declined, but then I told myself NO, I came here to get a final opinion from the best hospital in this country and it’s been 6 damn months with my eye being loopy and swollen.
I was past my breaking point and frustrated beyond imagination. It’s one of those “why me” type of problem I’m sure you’ve had too.
I went ahead with the procedure and it really worked. My eye looked 80% better in a week and I’ve been using natural treatments for the other two chalazions.
Chalazion Surgery – What it’s Like & Should You Have it Done?
So as I mentioned, I under went a chalazion surgery removal procedure.
I’ll outline what it’s like if you’re in the situation of considering having a chalazion surgery to help clear up your eye. It’s not fun, but not nearly as bad as you think. Most eye doctors are going to tell you that having an incision to drain a chalazion is a last resort, I agree but it’s been half a year already and I want my eye to be back to normal.
The chalazion surgery procedure
The first step was to thoroughly clean my eyelids . The staff spent a good 10 minutes cleaning my eyelids with specialized soap and q-tips to get the dirt and grim from the skin right under my eye where my eye lashes were. They noted how dirty my eyelids were, but it was due to the infection.
After that was to apply a jelly to numb your skin to make the actual injection of novocaine painless. Yes, novocaine. Like the dentist uses. You lie back and they apply the jelly. It takes about 30 minutes for the jelly to fully soak into your skin so it’s numb. So for 30 minutes you get to relax and reflect on your life decisions and think “why me” as you lay on the table :).
Then, they give you an injection of novocaine to completely numb your eyelid and surrounding eye area. Only your eyelid is affected and it really works because you won’t feel much of anything in the next step.
The next step after that is that they peal back your eyelid with a clamp so your eyelid is turned inside out. Then they position a cover over your eye so you’re staring a dark piece of cloth as your eyelid is not puled back and you won’t be able to blink.
Then begins the actual chalazion surgery. Depending on the size of the chalazion will determine what tool is used to drain the chalazion. It could be a scaple, needle or laser. Ask your doctor before you undergo the procedure how they will go about performing the operation.
Once done, you’ll be given a cloth bandage that they will put over your eye for good measure and you’re done. Wait 2 hours minimum before you remove the bandage.
How long does a chalazion surgery last?
All in all, the actual incision part with your eyelid exposed takes 10 minutes. But if you factor in all the prep time it’s a 45 minute out patient procedure.
What is the recovery time for chalazion surgery?
Again, it really depends on the tool they used. My eye was loopy and weird looking for the next 5 hours. After which it returned to normal and I could go out and enjoy the day without anyone noticing. The actual chalazion was totally removed, but I’m unlucky and I actually had 3 chalazions and only one was big enough to remove. But in terms of recovery time, I would say it takes about a full week to really let your body heal.
What about a steroid injection?
My doctor said she prefers to do an incision as it has less complications than a steroid injection and removal is instant. I’m not a doctor so the only option I had was to have the surgery or to try my had at natural treatments.
Are you happy with the results
Yes. I’m happy I had the procedure done. It removed the biggest chalazion on my eyelid which instantly improved my appearance. I still had two more smaller ones though, but they could be managed with hot compress and time. As they were not that big, it was a non issue for me waiting for nature to take its course.
What about Natural Chalazion Treatments?
Hot compress + eyelid scrub
This is the standard treatment for any chalazion or stye. Styes actually do go away on their own with this treatment in a week or two. Chalazions are much more difficult and you’ll need to do apply a hot compress every morning day in and day out multiple times a day for at least 10 minutes per application of the compress FOR A MONTH.
Who has time for that? Well you do now since you have an unsightly bump on your eyelid. This is what I did for months and months.
It’s also helpful you buy a proper warm compress (instead of using a towel or some complicated setup like rice in a sock). A warm compress will simply get warm and stay warm for a long time once you heat it up. This is nice as you won’t have to constantly heat and reheat a warm compress.
Next, after the application of a hot compress YOU NEED to use an eyelid scrub. Why? Because the hot compress opens up your pores so the specialized soap is more effective when applied to your eyelid.
Again, I can’t stress how important it is to do both if you’re trying to treat a chalazion.
Apply apple cider vinegar applied 1 or 2 times a day
Apple cider vinegar worked very well at reducing the size of my chalazion, though it did not make it go away. For that I needed surgery as mentioned. None the less it still worked surprisingly well and it’s worth buying a bottle of apple cider vinegar simply because it’s good for your health.
So, go buy a bottle of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (yes emphasis on the raw unfiltered part). Not only is it beneficial for your health as a drink it can be applied to your chalazion to make it go away.
The way you should go about applying the apple cider vinegar is to pour a little bit into the cap, dilute it with water, then dip a Q-tip into the cap and gently tap the chalazion on your eyelid. DO NOT rub apple cider vinegar over your eyelid as this will simply irritate your eyelid as apple cider vinegar is highly acidic.
I read it on other eye care websites and it’s terrible advice. Apple cider vinegar is VINEGAR and burns obviously as apple cider vinegar is highly acidic.
If you want to rub the apple cider vinegar over your eye you’ll need to dilute it first: 8 oz of water + one table spoon. But I suggest using the Q-tip method combined with the warm compress routine.
The reason this works at reducing chalazions is that the vinegar helps beak up the blockage cause by your clogged oil gland in your eyelid. You should be combining this with a daily warm compress.
Also, use apple cider vinegar twice a day MAX. Too much and it will irritate your skin. Lastly, don’t over do it though as your eyelids are very thin. Apply once or twice a day for a few days, no more. Maybe a week at most then stop.
Saline Solution Eye Drops
Get some sterile eye drops and use them daily. They help prevent dry eyes and contain ingredients that can help clean out your eye.
Eye drops are helpful because it directly effects the underneath part of your eyelid.
Fish Oil/Krill Oil and flax seed
While overlooked, it’s helpful to start supplementing your diet with krill oil or fish oil. The fatty acids are helpful at reducing inflammation in your body and promote skin health. Getting your diet in order is always helpful for promoting skin, eye and hair health.
I eat sardines, so if you’re not keen on taking fish oil just include sardines in your diet.
How Long Does a Chalazion Last (or should last)?
1-2 months if you’re lucky, it will go away on it’s own without you doing anything. But you should be doing natural treatments.
3 or more months of having a chalazion, you’ll need medical help from my personal experience.
I’ve Had a Chalazion For Over a Month!
Most doctors and medical sites will state that a chalazion will go away within a month if you take the time to apply conservative measures to promote healing like a warm compress for 15 minutes per day (see our post on chalazion treatments).
What has been my personal experience?
I was so annoyed to read that it should go away in a month. Nonsense, I had chalazions in my eye for months and months. Needing an out patient procedure to remove the biggest one.
My chalazions DID NOT go away on their own, but they did get slightly smaller, but by no means did they become unnoticeable. I followed the first doctors advice and waited a month. Most websites said a month and the doctor I spoke to said it would go away over time.
After a month, I still had three ugly lumps on my eyelid. How long does a chalazion last? In my case it seemed to be never ending.
Doxycycline was a game changer
So after the surgery, my eye was way better, then it got worse again. My eyelid now swelled up and stayed that way where the incision was made. This then resulted in me developing blepharitis in my right eye.
It’s basically when you have too much bacteria and that bacteria is making your eye all crusty. I noticed the hot compress made my condition worse. This was an obvious sign of infection.
It was horrible. Almost a year of this and my eye is still not normal.
I’m not kidding when I said this was the never ending eye infection.
After trying the conservative treatments I again went to Rutin Eye Hospital for a follow up. The doctor to a quick look and said I had a bacterial eye infection.
No shit, I’ve been having an issue with my eye for almost a year now.
He prescribed me Doxycycline and told me to take it for a week and to apply hot compress (I had already been doing this for almost a year).
I was mad. It’s not normal to have a bacterial eye infection and chalazions for almost an entire year. BUT I decided to take the medication he prescribed and it worked.
Within a week the swelling went down, my eye returned to normal looking but a bit reddish. Doxycycline simple reduces the swelling but not the underlying infection.
Then medication ran out.
Over the next month my eye became red and swollen again over the next 2 weeks of being off the medication.
Well Rutin is an expensive hospital so instead of going there to see a doctor and pay over $100 USD to get more cheap medication, I simply went to my local pharmacy and bought a 1 month supply of Doxycycline for 3 dollars (yea what!) and began taking it twice a day for 3 weeks and then once a day the last week.
13 Months Later After in Novemeber
Upon returning home to the United States my eye been red and swollen again. For OVER a year.
While the three week treatment worked, my eye was still slightly red and crusty. It reduced the swelling but not the underlying infection.
I saw a doctor in America and she prescribed me Doxycycline that cost $200 (yea two hundred dollars for something that cost pennies in asia) for a 3 month supply as well as Neomycin eye drops and ointment.
It was this combination that finally allowed my eye to fully heal and return to normal. The neomycin was critical as it took care of the bacterial aspect and the Doxycycline took care of the swelling.
So that’s it. That’s my no good, very bad, never ending eye infection that characterized my 34th year of being alive.
Appreciate your health. Thanks for reading.
Thailand eye doctors, you suck go back to school.