What is a Chalazion?

A Chalazion is swollen lump that slowly develops on the eyelid, usually beginning as a red and tender patch of skin along the eyelid margin.

What is the difference between a Chalazion and a Stye?

Whereas Chalazions typically do not cause any pain and form farther back on the eyelid, styes tend to be very painful and develop closer to the eyelid edge. Furthermore, styes are generally caused by bacterial infections around the eyelash roots while Chalazions usually are not brought about by infections.

What causes a Chalazion?

A Chalazion is caused when the oil glands in the eyelids get clogged up and begin to swell. Chalazions generally are not due to infections, but they arise when the Meibomian glands within the eyelids become thickened, therefore inhibiting oil from flowing out of the glands. The oil begins to build up in the glands, producing a lump which may eventually break open to release the oil into the nearby regions and lead to eyelid inflammation.

How can a Chalazion affect my vision?

Chalazions typically do not affect the vision, but they can cause some wateriness of the eyes. In rarer cases when the Chalazion is large enough to press against the eyeball, they can lead to blurred vision.

Who is at risk for a Chalazion?

Anyone is at risk of developing a Chalazion, but they are more prone to forming in adults rather than children. The chances of developing a Chalazion are especially higher for people who are affected by blepharitis (an infection that targets the edge of eyelids), skin conditions such as acne rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis, medical conditions such as diabetes, or who have previously had a Chalazion before.

What are symptoms of a Chalazion?

The most common symptom of a Chalazion is the formation of a small and painless bump along the eyelid margin (most commonly along the upper eyelid but in rarer cases they can appear along the bottom eyelid as well). Chalazions start out as red and tender regions of skin near the eyelids that slowly develop into lumps over the span of a few days. Chalazions can causes watery eyes and if large enough, they can cause the entire eyelid to swell and eventually lead to blurred vision as well.

How is a Chalazion detected?

Chalazions can be identified through comprehensive eye evaluations that include observing the eye externally for lid structure and texture of the eyelid skin, as well as examining the eyelid margins with bright lights and magnifying lenses along the base of eyelashes where the glands are located.

How is a Chalazion treated?

The treatment for a Chalazion ranges from simple home remedies such as warm compresses and lid scrubs to more intensive treatments such as antibiotics or even surgery to have it drained. In the preliminary stages of a Chalazion, it can be treated by soaking a clean washcloth in hot water and then holding it against the affected area for 10-15 minutes at a time, and repeating this process several times throughout the day. This allows the blocked oil glands to clear up and drain the trapped oil. As a Chalazion progresses in development, you may be prescribed antibiotics by your ophthalmologist or even receive steroid shots to reduce the amount of swelling. In the more severe cases where the Chalazion does not go away and begins to affect vision, your ophthalmologist may perform surgery to have the lump drained. However, it is very important that you do not try to squeeze or pop the Chalazion yourself, as this may cause an infection to spread to your eyelid.

What are the risks of Chalazion surgery?

The risks of Chalazion surgery are very minimal, usually limited to small amounts of bleeding and pain. In seldom cases there can be increases in the eye’s pressure, changes in the skin color along the eyelid, infection, or recurrence of the Chalazion.

What happens before surgery?

Preparing for surgery is a fairly easy process. Starting a few days prior to surgery, you will need to start gently washing your face with warm water a couple times day, paying special attention to the eyelid region to make sure it is clean and free of crust or gunk. It is also recommended to avoid wearing make-up prior to the surgery, as it can further irritate and inflame the Chalazion.

What happens during surgery?

The surgery is a short and simple procedure that is usually performed in your ophthalmologist's office as an office visit. Your ophthalmologist will numb the eyelid region with a local anesthetic and then proceed to drain the oil trapped in the oil glands. The process typically only lasts for about half an hour. In some cases, only for small children, the surgery can be performed in an outpatient surgery center where the child will be put under general anesthesia before having the Chalazion drained.

What happens after surgery?

The surgery is a quick procedure, and you will be able to drive yourself home the very same day. You will have the operated eye patched with gauze to stem any potential blood flow, and you will be prescribed an ointment to apply along the eyelid to make sure that an infection does not arise and to relieve any irritation that you may feel afterwards. The eyepatch can be removed about 6-8 hours after the procedure. Depending on how developed the Chalazion was prior to its drainage and how the procedure went, you may be asked to come back in a couple weeks to follow-up, but in most cases you will be fine to proceed with your regularly scheduled appointments.

Can the Chalazion return?

Yes, it is not unusual for new Chalazions to develop after having previous ones have disappeared or been drained. If Chalazions continue to occur repeatedly, your ophthalmologist may have it biopsied to determine if there is a more serious eye issue underlying the problem.

DISCLAIMER - At Northwest Eye Associates we regard patient education just as important as diagnosis; therefore, we have provided answers to many questions you may have. Please note that this information serves to educate patients on common conditions, NOT to diagnose them. Please consult with your eye care physician for specific answers as he or she will know what is best for your eye. Come see us at Northwest Eye Associates to receive your evaluation today! - 713-864-8652
1740 W27th Street, Suite 180
Houston, Texas 77008