A chalazion is a small, generally painless, lump or swelling that appears on your eyelid. A blocked meibomian also called oil gland causes this condition. It can develop on the upper or lower eyelid, and may disappear without treatment. Chalazia is the term for multiple chalazion or its plural.
A chalazion is often confused with an internal or external stye. An inner stye is an infection of a meibomian gland. An exterior stye is an infection in the area of the eyelash follicle and sweat gland. Styes are normally painful and chalazia usually aren’t. However, chalazia may develop after styes.
You should see your eye doctor if you think you have a chalazion, especially if it blocks your vision or if you’ve actually had chalazia in the past.
Causes and risk factors
The chalazion is caused by a blockage in one of the tiny meibomian glands of the upper and lower eyelids. The oil these glands produce helps to moisten the eyes.
Inflammation or infections affecting the meibomian glands are the underlying causes of chalazia.
Chalazia are much more a common in people with inflammatory conditions like seborrhea, acne, rosacea, chronic blepharitis, or long-term inflammation of the eyelid. They’re also much more common in people with viral conjunctivitis or an infection covering the inside of the eyes and eyelids.
Recurring or unusual chalazia may be signs and symptoms of even more severe conditions, but these are uncommon.
Signs and symptoms
A chalazion typically appears as a painless lump or swelling on your upper or lower eyelid. Chalazia may affect both upper and lower lids and can occur in both eyes at the same time. Relying on the size as well as location of the chalazion, it may blur or block vision.
Although not as common, a chalazion may be red, inflamed, and painful if an infection is present.
In many cases a doctor can diagnose this problem by taking a close look at the lump on your eyelid. Your doctor will certainly also inquire about your signs and symptoms to identify if the lump is a chalazion, a stye, or something else.
Some chalazia can disappear without treatment. If your doctor does recommend advise treatment, alternatives may consist of:
Initially, do not try to squeeze the chalazion. It’s finest if you touch it as little as possible.
Instead, you should apply a warm compress to your eyelid four times per day for about 10 minutes at a time. This can reduce the swelling by softening the oils in the blocked gland. Make sure you wash your hands before you touch the area.
Your doctor may also inform you to carefully massage the lump a few times per day or to scrub your eyelid. Your doctor may also prescribe eye drops or eyelid creams.
If the chalazion does not disappear with home treatment, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection or a surgical procedure. Both the injection and the surgery are effective treatments.
The choice of treatment depends on various factors. Your doctor will discuss the advantages as well as risks.
Preventing a chalazion
It’s not always possible to avoid getting a chalazion. This is particularly true if you’re prone to this type of eye problem. However, there are a few things that you can do to prevent this condition:
Constantly wash your hands before touching your eyes.
Make sure that anything that comes in contact with your eyes, such as contact and glasses, is clean.
If you have a condition that increases your chance of developing chalazia, follow your doctor’s instructions to help control them.