Chalazion

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A chalazion is an annoying, but benign lump on the upper or lower eyelid that is caused by blockage of an oil gland. Chalazia may increase in size over the course of several days to weeks and can become inflamed and painful. Most chalazia resolve on their own with self-care at home, but to deal with persistent inflammation it may be necessary to undergo treatment from an eye doctor.

What is chalazion?

A chalazion is a bump or nodule filled with the pus and fatty secretions that normally drain from the eye. A chalazion is not an infection of the eye; rather, it is an inflammation caused by a blocked oil gland.

Chalazia usually drain without assistance, but the process can be facilitated by the application of warm compresses to the eye several times a day. However, some chalazia grow large enough to press on the cornea, causing blurry vision. When chalazia become painful and aesthetically unappealing or when they start to interfere with vision, it is necessary to remove them.

Symptoms of chalazion

A chalazion looks like a small lump on the eyelid, although they can grow in size to as large as one eighth of an inch. Here are a few symptoms associated with a chalazion growth: 

  • Eyelid tenderness 
  • Redness 
  • Eyelid swelling 
  • Pain 
  • Swelling of the affected eyelid 
  • Sensitivity to light

Causes of chalazion

Each eyelid contains oil glands (meibomiam glands) near the eyelashes that are designed to lubricate the eye. When the glands become obstructed, oil begins to build up inside the gland, forming a bump on the eyelid.

People with blepharitis and/or rosacea are more prone to developing a chalazion.

Treatment of chalazion

A chalazion will disappear on its own if the blockage goes away. Warm compresses applied several times a day can help to promote drainage and reduce inflammation. When chalazia continue to grow in size, doctors can prescribe antibiotics or perform an in-office procedure to clear the contents of the growth.

It is important not to squeeze or try to pop a chalazion. To treat a chalazion at home, lightly massage the area a few times a day and hold a warm towel over the eyelid for 5 to 10 minutes several times a day.

If home care does not treat the chalazion, visit your eye doctor for treatment.