What is a Chalazion?

The term chalazion (pronounced kah-la’-ze-on) comes from a Greek word meaning a small lump. It refers to a swelling in the eyelid caused by chronic or acute inflammation of one of the small oil producing glands (meibomian glands) located in the upper and lower eyelids.

A chalazion is similar to 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 often becomes 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” toward the inside or nose side of the eyelid. Sometimes, 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 its own. Usually, however they don’t disappear without treatment. If the chalazion is large, it may cause blurred vision by distorting the shape of the eye and certainly becomes more cosmetically noticeable.

Chalazions may be treated with any one or a combination of the following methods:

Antibiotic and/or steroid drops, antibiotic and/or steroid injections and/or antibiotic pills;

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 with the washcloth;

Injection of steroids 

Surgical incision or excision.

Chalazions usually respond well to treatment, although some people, particularly children, are prone to recurrences and may require continuing medication. If a chalazion recurs in the same place, Dr Malitz may suggest a biopsy to rule out more serious problems.