lump in eyelid

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A chalazion, also known as a meibomian cyst, is a common condition affecting the eyelid. It mostly afflicts the upper eyelid and can affect both eyes. It is more common in adults than children and occurs most frequently in persons, 30 to 50 years of age.

What Is It?

The meibomian glandspecial kind of sebaceous gland at the rim of the eyelids inside the tarsal plateproduces oil (meibum) which flows out of the gland into the tears. This oily substance is meant to prevent evaporation of the eye'stear filmIt traps tears between the oiled edge and the eyeballUnder certain circumstances, the oil within the gland becomes too thick to flow out or the opening duct gets obstructed (clogged with oil). This marks the onset of a chalazion.
{gallery}chalazion:::1:0{/gallery}Initially, it may appear as a red, tender, swollen area of the eyelid. However, it develops over 2 to 3 weeks, forming a painless, firm lump under the skin of the eyelidIt can grow to the size of a pea. The affected eye may tear or experience blurred vision if the chalazion is large enough to press against the eyeball.
chalazion may be confused with stye (hordeolum), which is also an area of swelling in the eyelid.Difference is {gallery}hordeolum:::0:1{/gallery}
  • -chalazia tend to develop farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes and often are larger.
  • -Unlike styes,chalazia usually isn't painful and it is not caused by an infection from bacteria. Styes contain an active bacterial infection

However, a chalazion may occur as an after-effect of a sty. It can also develop from rubbing the eyes or using products near the eyelid that can irritate the eye. 

Risk factors for the development of a chalazion include:

  1. Chronic blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelids and eye lashes
  2. Acne rosacea
  3. Seborrhea
  4. Tuberculosis
  5. Viral infection

What is the treatment for a chalazion?

Many chalazia require minimal medical treatment, resolving on their own in a few weeks to a month. However, they often recur.
Home treatment is usually all that is needed for a chalazion.  This includes: 
  • -not wearing eye makeup or contact lenses
  • -applying warm, wet compresses to the eye area for 10 to15 minutes 4 to 6 times a day for several days. The warm compresses may help soften the hardened oil that is blocking the ducts thereby promoting drainage and healing.
  • -allowing the chalazion to break open by itself. Don’t attempt to squeeze or drain the chalazion yourself. Once the chalazion drains on its own, keep the area clean and keep your hands away from your eyes.
  • -Lightly massaging the external area of the eyelid for several minutes each day may also help to promote drainage.
  • - using over-the-counter (nonprescription) medications.
If the chalazion does not drain and heal within a month, contact your eye doctor (ophthalmologist). A small operation is an option if it does not go, or if it causes troublesome{media load=media,id=94,width=200,align=right,display=inline} symptoms. The operation is done under local anaesthetic. The eyelid is numbed. A small cut is then made on the inside of the eyelid to release the contents of the cyst. It is a minor procedure.


I am not sure if there is a good way to prevent recurrence. In many circumstances people will go through a time period of 6 months to 2 years where they are prone to developing chalazia. General advise for preventing recurrence is applying hot compresses (described above) to the eyelids on regularly basis to keep the oil glands from plugging and massaging the eyelids each morning. In some cases low dose doxycycline 50 mg has been found to be helpful.
Last modified onMonday, 09 September 2013 20:40
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