Add a Disease

Slow-growing swelling of the upper or lower eyelid usually caused by a blockage in the oil glands in the eyelid. A chalazion is generally a painless, slowly enlarging nodule on the eyelid formed by inflammation of the meibomian glands. It is basically a chronic granulomatous enlargement of the meibomian glands of the eye-lid. The meibomian glands in the eyelid serve the purpose of lubricating the margins of the eyelids, by producing a layer of tear. Due to acute or sub acute inflammation of the eyelid, which may be due to a stye, there occurs an obstruction of the duct of the meibomian gland, leading to retention of the tears and swelling of the lid. In most cases chalazion may appear after a stye. Chalazion is essentially a benign enlargement and not cancerous in nature.

Alternative Names of Chalazion are: Meibomian gland lipogranuloma

Complications of Chalazion

  • Occasionally, a chalazion can cause astigmatism. Astigmatism is when your cornea (the front part of the eye that covers the pupil) has an irregular shape. Instead of being its usual round shape, it's oval (a bit like a rugby ball). This makes focusing difficult and vision blurred.
  • A chalazion can put pressure on your cornea, forcing it to change the shape resulting in astigmatism.

Causes of Chalazion

A chalazion is caused by a blockage in a meibomian gland duct in the eyelid. The duct may become blocked because of an infection, such as a meibomian stye (internal hordeolum) or an abnormal growth, such as a tumour (although this is rare). Usually blockages rupture by themselves, and the oily fluid trapped inside drains away naturally. However, if this doesn't happen, a chalazion forms.

Signs & Symptoms of Chalazion

  • Painful swelling on the eyelid
  • Eyelid tenderness
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Increased tearing

Diagnosis of Chalazion

  • An exam of the eyelid confirms the diagnosis.
  • Rarely, the Meibomian gland duct may be blocked by a skin cancer. If this is suspected, you may need a biopsy.

Treatments of Chalazion

  • A chalazion will often disappear without treatment within a month or so.
  • The primary treatment is application of warm compresses for 10-15 minutes at least 4 times a day. This may soften the hardened oils blocking the duct and promote drainage and healing. If the chalazion continues to get bigger, it may need to be surgically removed. This is usually done from underneath the eyelid to avoid a scar on the skin.
  • Antibiotic eye drops are usually used several days before and after removal of the cyst, but are otherwise of little value in treating a chalazion.
  • A chalazion that keeps coming back should be biopsied to rule out tumor.

Prevention of Chalazion

Proper cleansing of the eyelid may prevent recurrences in people prone to chalazia. Cleaning the eyelash area with baby shampoo will help reduce clogging of the ducts.

When to seek Medical Advice

  • Apply warm compresses and call your health care provider if the swelling progresses or persists longer than 1 month.
  • Call for an appointment with your doctor if lumps on the eyelid continue to enlarge despite treatment or are associated with an area of eyelash loss.

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