03 June 2012

What's in a name?

Such a variety of diseases bring patients in to see their doctor that I find it quite significant when I see two patients with the same disease. Recently, I've seen two patients with inflammation of the eyelids, or blepharitis. What makes blepharitis so fun is not just its zany name but the zany names used to further describe it.

Blepharitis can manifest as an infection of the glands of Moll or the glands of Zeis, which are the sebaceous (oil-secreting) glands located at the margin of the eyelid. Such an infection is called a stye, or hordeolum. Blepharitis can also lead to the formation of a cyst in the eyelid, known as a chalazion. The reason is chronic inflammation of the meibomian gland.

These words seem more appropriate in a Dr. Seuss book than in a medical textbook. Then again, now that Dartmouth's medical school is named after Dr. Seuss, the two might no longer be so distinct.