A chalazion develops in the meibomian gland, inside the eyelid.
A chalazion (kuh-LAY-zee-on) is a cyst that forms in the eyelids as a result of a blockage in one or more of the
meibomian glands that produce oil that forms the outer layer of tears. It initially may resemble a
stye – being red, tender and swollen. But after a few days, chalazia typically become a painless, slow-growing bumps that, unlike a stye, do not contain live bacteria. However, they may attract bacteria and lead to an infection or occur as an after-effect of a stye. But in most cases, chalazia are gone within a few months, although one chalazion cyst may be followed by other, possibly larger cysts over several years.
Chalazia – named for the Greek word for small bump – can be so small that they are barely visible or as large as a pea. If they become large enough, they can press against the cornea, distorting the eyeball and blurring vision.
The first symptom is the swelling of the eyelid with little to no tenderness. Other symptoms include:
- A slow-growing bump that is firm and painless
- Surrounding skin may be loose
- Blurred vision if the chalazion is large
If you are prone to chalazion, keeping the eyelid margins very clean and free of debris may prevent recurrences. Washing with a warm washcloth and very mild shampoo can do this. Scrub the outer eye and lashes gently and rinse with warm water at least once per day. It is also advised to keep your hands clean, to avoid rubbing your eyes and to not share eye makeup.
Warm compresses are usually the first line of treatment, helping to unclog the duct and allowing pus to drain away. Simply place a folded washcloth moistened in warm water on the affected area for 10-15 minutes, four times a day. You can also gently massage the lid from the nose outward to help release blocked fluid from the gland.
Your eyecare practitioner may also prescribe eye drops, ointment or oral antibiotics, depending on the degree of inflammation and tenderness. Some research indicates that homeopathic medicines may dissolve the chalazion, but you should discuss this option with your eye doctor before starting the medicine. If the chalazion persists for more than 6 weeks, quick and easy surgery (chalazion excision) can be performed in a doctor’s office to remove it.