A chalazion is a hard bump that forms on the eyelid.
A chalazion can form when the duct leading from the meibomian gland to the eyelid becomes blocked. This gland produces an oily substance that lubricates the margins of the eyelid and the front of the eye. When the duct becomes blocked, the secretions from the meibomian gland harden. This causes a chalazion to form near the edge of the eyelid. This condition can become chronic.
A risk factor is something that increases your chances of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for forming a chalazion include:
The initial symptom is a small swelling on the eyelid that often looks like a stye. It may or may not be painful. After a few days, the swelling on the eyelid often begins to:
- Grow slowly, forming into a hard lump
A chalazion can cause complications, though not often. These include:
- Localized infection at the site of the chalazion
- Visual problems due to the chalazion pushing against and distorting the shape of the cornea
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform an eye exam. Rarely, a sample of fluid from the chalazion is taken and tested in a lab.
A chalazion will often disappear on its own. Treatment may include:
- Self-care—A warm compresses is applied to the affected eyelid several times a day.
- Medication—Corticosteroid is injected into the chalazion. This is done by an ophthalmologist, but is rarely required. Topical antibiotics can be used if a secondary infection of the chalazion develops.
Surgery—This involves the surgical incision and draining of a chalazion. The procedure is usually performed in the office with a local injection of numbing medicine by an ophthalmologist. Surgery may be done when the chalazion:
- Does not respond to other treatment
- Is growing very rapidly or very large
To help prevent a chalazion from forming, practice careful hygiene of your eye area. This includes:
- Washing your eyelids daily with warm water and very mild soap (baby shampoo often works well) if you have seborrheic dermatitis or blepharitis (unless given other instructions on washing your eyelids from your eye doctor)
- Applying warm compresses to your eye at the first sign of eyelid irritation
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Ophthalmology
National Eye Institute
Canadian Association of Optometrists
Canadian Health Network
American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://www.aafp.org .
The Merck Manual of Medical Information . Simon and Schuster, Inc; 2000.
National Eye Institute website. Available at: http://www.nei.nih.gov .
Last reviewed November 2008 by Christopher Cheyer, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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