A chalazion is a swelling in the eyelid caused by inflammation of one of the small oil-producing glands located in the upper and lower eyelids. A chalazion is sometimes confused with a stye, which also appears as a lump in the eyelid. However, a stye is an infection of a lash follicle and forms a red, sore lump. Chalazions tend to occur farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes and tend to “point” toward the inside of the eyelid. Sometimes a chalazion can cause the entire eyelid to swell suddenly, but usually there is a particular tender point.
When a chalazion is small and without symptoms, it may disappear on its own. If the chalazion is large, it may cause blurred vision. Chalazions are treated with any or a combination of the following methods:
- Warm compresses help to clear the clogged gland;
- Antibiotic ointments may be prescribed if bacteria infect the chalazion;
- Steroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation;
- Surgery may be used to drain a large chalazion if it does not respond to other treatments. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia in your ophthalmologist’s (Eye M.D.’s) office.
Chalazions usually respond well to treatment, although some people are prone to recurrences. If a chalazion recurs in the same place, your ophthalmologist may suggest a biopsy to rule out problems that are more serious.