Chalazion is a small lump and refers to a swelling in the eyelid caused by chronic inflammation of one of the small oil producing glands (meibomian glands) located in the upper and lower eyelids. A chalazion is usually a reaction to trapped oil secretions and not caused by bacteria, although the site can become secondarily infected by bacteria. When a chalazion is small and without symptoms, it may disappear without treatment. If the chalazion is large, it may cause blurred vision by distorting the shape of the eye. A chalazion is sometimes confused with a stye which also appears as a lump in the eyelid. Chalazions usually occur farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes, and tend to "point" toward the nose side of the eyelid. A stye is an acute inflammatory infection of an eyelash follicle and forms a red, sore lump near the edge of the lid margin.
- Lump and/or swelling in the eyelid
- Blurred vision
- Tenderness in the area of swelling
The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have a chalazion. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for a complete exam.
Chalazions may be treated with any one or a combination of antibiotic or steroid drops or injections; warm compresses for 5 to 10 minutes, 3 or 4 times a day; gentle massage to express the glandular secretions; or surgical drainage. Chalazions usually respond well to treatment, although some people are prone to recurrences and may require continuing medication. If a chalazion recurs in the same place, your ophthalmologist may suggest a biopsy to rule out a more serious problem. Occasionally, a chalazion can cause the entire eyelid to swell suddenly.
For more information, see the Comprehensive Ophthalmology and Cataract Sugery Clinic and the complete Clinic Services listing of the U-M Kellogg Eye Center.