Chalazion (Eyelid Cyst)

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuideCommon Eye Problems and Infections

Common Eye Problems and Infections

What are the symptoms and signs of a chalazion?

The signs and symptoms of a chalazion are a non-painful lump under the skin in one of the four eyelids.

Is a chalazion like a pimple?

If the obstructed gland has bacteria within it, the gland may become infected. This is called a hordeolum, which does resemble a pimple, which really is an infected obstruction of an oil gland of the skin. A hordeolum may be tender to touch. A chalazion is not an infection but may follow or precede a hordeolum. A hordeolum is often referred to as a stye.

Picture of hordeolum
Picture of a hordeolum

How do health-care professionals diagnose a chalazion?

A chalazion is diagnosed by the medical history and the finding of a firm non-painful lump in one of the eyelids. This diagnosis can be made by inspection with a penlight with some source of magnification together with palpation (feeling) of the lump.

What types of specialists treat a chalazion?

Your family doctor can make the diagnosis and initiate treatment of a chalazion. If there is a question regarding the diagnosis or the chalazion requires surgical removal, your physician will refer you to an ophthalmologist, a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disease.

What are treatments and home remedies for a chalazion?

Most chalazions are treated with warm compresses to the eyelid to increase the circulation of blood to the inflamed area and promote healing. In addition, the doctor may prescribe an antibiotic drop or ointment to be used immediately after the compresses. If the chalazion persists and is causing an unsightly lump, it can be removed surgically as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. This excision is ordinarily performed through a small incision located on the inside of the affected lid. The removal of a chalazion neither alters the normal function of the lid nor decreases the amount of tears. The surgery removes only one gland of the 30 or 40 within the eyelid.

What is the prognosis of a chalazion?

In general, a chalazion does not affect sight. Rarely, the lump itself is large enough to distort the ocular surface and cause blurring of the vision. The vision will return to normal once the chalazion gets smaller or is removed. The pressure of the chalazion on the eye does not cause glaucoma. A chalazion is not malignant and has no potential to become malignant. A chalazion is not contagious.

Is it possible to prevent a chalazion?

Some individuals have thicker Meibomian gland secretions than others and, therefore, have a greater risk of developing a chalazion. If you have had one chalazion, you are at greater risk of developing another one in the future. People with acne rosacea, because of alterations within the oil glands of the face, are at greater risk of developing chalazia. The regular use of warm compresses applied to the closed eyelids for five minutes before bedtime can be helpful in preventing the Meibomian glands from clogging during the night. In people with seborrhea of the lids and recurrent chalazia, warm compresses and careful cleansing of the lid margins can be helpful for prevention. Some patients with recurrent chalazia can benefit by chronic use of oral low-dose tetracycline, which changes the metabolism of the oil-producing glands.

REFERENCE:

Dhaliwal, U. and A. "A rationale for therapeutic decision-making in chalazia." Orbit 24.4 (2005): 227-230.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/4/2016

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