What is a Chalazion?

If you wake up one morning and notice a small swelling or lump on your eyelid, don’t worry too much. It may just be due to a blocked gland.

Doctors call it a “chalazion” -- “chalazia” if you have more than one. It’s one of the most common types of eyelid lumps.

Chalazia are more likely to appear on your upper eyelid, though they sometimes show up on the lower eyelid. You might get them in both eyes at once. 

Causes

You have glands throughout your body. They make things that your cells, tissues, and organs need to work properly. The meibomian glands in your upper and lower eyelids make oil that mixes with your tears to moisten and protect your eyes. If the oil gets too thick or if the glands are plugged because of inflammation, you may get a chalazion.

Sometimes an infection can cause a chalazion, though this is rare.

Symptoms

Chalazia happen more often in adults than children, and they look about the same in each person. They may start with a small area that is red, swollen, and sore or painful when touched. After a few days the pain usually goes away and a bump or lump remains.

You may have:

  • A small lump on the eyelid
  • Swelling of the eyelid
  • Soreness or discomfort
  • Redness of the skin
  • Watery eye
  • Mild irritation in the eye
  • Blurry vision

Chalazia often come back. Once you have one, another may appear in the same or another area.

Diagnosis

There are no special tests. Your doctor usually just checks your eyes. He’ll probably ask you questions about your symptoms, past eye problems, and your health history in general.

You may have had chalazia more than once. If you haven’t been checked by an eye specialist, your doctor may recommend that you see one. You may see either an ophthalmologist or optometrist, who’ll check the chalazia to rule out other eye problems. 

Home Treatment

Chalazia often go away in days or weeks without treatment.

One home remedy is to apply warm, moist heat to the area. Your doctor or nurse can give you instructions. Make sure you know how long and how often you should do this.

Keep your hands clean. Touch the area around the chalazion as little as possible. Never try to squeeze or drain it.

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When to Call a Doctor

Make the call if you think you have a chalazion. Your doctor may want to check it and tell you how to take care of it to help it heal. He may also suggest you use eye drops or creams.

If the more simple treatments don’t work, your doctor may prescribe medicines, recommend shots, or give you injections to clear up the problem.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brian S. Boxer Wachler, MD on August 10, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

Elsayed, M. EyeNet Magazine, published online September 2015.d

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Eye Wiki: Chalazion.”

American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus: “Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and Treatment.”

American Optometric Association: “Chalazion.”

Garrity, J. Chalazion and Hordeolum (Stye)Floaters, Symptoms of Ophthalmologic Disorders, Merck Manual Professional Version, Merck & Co., Inc. 2016

National Library of Medicine: “Exocrine Glands.”

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