A chalazion or a meibomian gland lipogranuloma refers to a cyst in the eyelid that is caused due to the inflammation of a blocked oil gland, of upper eyelid mostly. Chalazion differs in size and intensity and is usually painless and nodule like. It might also become severely inflamed, but mostly stays inside the lid. It can also occur on the lower eyelid, and heals on its own by disappearing in about a month. However if it is large and painful then one should consult an eye specialist as it can also affect the vision. In very rare cases, skin cancer also results in Chalazion. It is actually somewhat similar to a sty but isn’t as painful and big. They result out of a sty that is almost healed and is no longer infectious causing red and swollen eyelids filled with pus and lipids that are difficult to rupture. It mostly disappears on its own but if it’s huge and painful then it can be massaged and compressed gently.
Signs and symptoms
- Swollen, heavy and sensitive eyelids
- Increase in tearing and sensitivity towards light
- Small lump on the eyelid at the beginning that might not be painful but is irritating and pus filled
Chalazion occurs as a result of blockage in the oil glands of the eyelids which is also known as the Meibomian gland. It produces oil on the upper and lower eyelids. People who have had it once can easily get it again. Touching and rubbing the eyes with dirty hands can also cause increase in the risk of having chalazion. It is not always possible to determine the cause accurately. However people with blepharitis and rosacea. People with rosacea, are more susceptible to have eye problems which can also effect the outer membrane or conjunctiva of the eye, the cornea) and the sclera as well.
To diagnose a chalazion, a close look on the lump is enough. The doctors also ask for other symptoms in order to differentiate between a lump and a sty.
Treatment and Removal
The treatment varies from one patient to another. Some doctors prescribe steroids, antibiotics or eye drops to cure it. In most of the cases it disappears on its own. One can also compress it gently a few times in a day to reduce the swelling and soften the blocked oil gland to drain out the pus. In order to do so the hands must be extremely clean. If it doesn’t go away even after these treatments then it needs to be removed surgically especially if it keeps growing and is blocking the vision, or an abnormal curving of the cornea. However it is always the last resort if it persists for a long time. One can also prevent it by keeping eyes clean and not touching it with dirty hands. Baby shampoos can also be used to clean it without causing it any irritation. Antibiotics such as Minocycline and Doxycycline are one of the most commonly prescribed oral medicines for chalazion. However antibiotics and topical medicines are usually ineffective.
Usually in surgeries local anesthesia is given to numb the affected area before making a small incision. The surgery is a complex one due to the delicate nature of eyes and to prevent scarring. At times the doctor also injects corticosteroid in the chalazion for a better drainage. It can also recur repeatedly in the same part even after the surgery, therefore the doctors send the removed tissue in the lab to get it checked for tumor. Initially no treatment is suggested as most of the people are able to deal with it without any treatment. But it can take a long time, at least two to six months. Mostly one refers to a general physician at first and if the condition is complicated then the patient is referred to an eye specialist.
Mostly chalazions don’t cause serious problems. It doesn’t get infected easily but being in unhygienic surrounding can worsen it which can further harm the whole eyelid and tissues around it. There can also be a lot of pain, swelling, itchiness and redness and problems in vision. One might also feel feverish. However these are temporary conditions and can be treated with antibiotics. For most of the people a chalazion occurs once but certain people are more prone to recurring and developing them.