What is a Chalazion?
The term chalazion (pronounced kah-la'-ze-on) comes from the Greek word meaning a small lump. It refers to a swelling in the eyelid caused by a chronic inflammation of one of the small oil producing glands (meibomian glands) located in the upper and lower eyelids.
A chalazion is sometimes confused with a stye which also appears as a lump in the eyelid. A stye is an acute inflammatory infection of a lash follicle and forms a red, sore lump near the edge of the eyelid. A chalazion is usually a reaction to trapped oil secretions and not caused by bacteria, although the site can become secondarily infected by bacteria. Chalazions tend to occur farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes (although a gradual swelling can be felt near the edge of the lid), and tend to “point” towards the inside or nose side of the eyelid. Occasionally, a chalazion can cause the entire eyelid to swell suddenly.
How is a Chalazion Treated?
When a chalazion is small and without symptoms, it may disappear on it's own. Usually, they don't disappear without treatment. If the chalazion is large, it may cause blurred vision by distorting the shape of the eye.
Chalazions may be treated with any one or a combination of the following methods:
- Warm compresses; warm compresses can be applied in a variety of ways. The simplest way is to hold a clean washcloth, soaked in hot water, against the closed lid for five to ten minutes, three to four times a day. Repeatedly soak the washcloth in hot water to maintain adequate heat.
- Massage or expression of the glandular secretions
- Antibiotic and/or steroid drops
- Surgical incision or excision
Chalazions usually respond well to treatment, although some people are prone to recurrences and may require continuing medication. If a chalazion recurs in the same place, your ophthalmologist may suggest a biopsy to rule out more serious problems.