Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.
What is Chalazion?
This is an inflammation of the glands that surround your eyes. It is also referred to as a tarsal cyst or meibomian cyst. One important thing to know is that it is not a stye which is not an inflammation like a chalazion but is an infection of the glands that are around your eyelids.
- When a person has a chalazion it will usually be in the form of a small lump in your lower or upper eyelid, most often near the edge of the eyelid.
- Although it starts out small it can get so big that it can interfere with your vision. Chalazion can grow as big as a pea on either eyelid.
- It will feel firm
- It is usually not painful but can be unsightly.
- When it starts out there is usually just redness but over the next few weeks you will start to notice swelling.
- Your eyelid may also be sensitive to the touch.
- If you gently lift up your eyelid you will see a yellow cyst that is smooth
- You may also experience a heavy feeling when you try to open your eye.
- Vision may be blurry at times, especially if it is a large chalazion
- You may also notice a sensitivity to light
It is normal for the glands around your eyes to produce a small amount of oil to help lubricate the skin around your eye and the eye itself but if the glands start to produce oil that is too thick to flow out normally it can block this gland. Even though the gland is block it will still continue to produce oil which in turn will cause a chalazion.
In order to prevent an infection in your eye if the chalazion should burst you should seek immediate treatment as soon as you see it. If you decide to leave it alone and hope it eventually drains on its own you can help the process by apply warm compresses four times a day for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. This treatment will encourage it to drain on its own so it will slowly deflate and just go away along with decreasing the inflammation. You can also try gentle massage your closed eyelid to speed up the draining process. Before using either of these home treatments make sure that you wash your hands first. You should also not wear eye makeup or your contacts as either of these could irritate it.
If you do go to your physician they will usually prescribe antibiotics to help prevent your eye from becoming infected. If the infection has spread to the entire eye or eyelid your physician may give you an oral antibiotic to take. Although it could eventually drain on its own it is advisable to seek medical attention because it could have an impact on your vision that is long lasting. If the chalazion is large enough to impact your vision your physician may inject steroid medication into the bump to help degrease the swelling so you can see well.
How to prevent chalazion
To help ensure that you do not get a chalazion you should make sure that you do not rub your eyes frequently. You also need to make sure that you are washing your hands before you put them anywhere near your eyes.
If the chalazion has been around for awhile or appears to be getting bigger your physician may opt to have it removed surgically The physician may also decide to have it surgically removed it if it is not responding to steroids or antibiotics even if you are not having blurred vision. When the physician speaks of surgically removing the chalazion they actually mean to drain the cyst by piercing it with a clean needle. You may think that you can do this yourself at home but do not do it. It can lead to complications if it is not done correctly. This surgical procedure is done by an ophthalmologist at a hospital. It is considered an outpatient surgery so you will not have to spend the night at the hospital. To drain the chalazion they will give you a local anesthesia. If it is a child who has a chalazion that needs to be drained a general anesthesia will be used so the child will not move during the procedure and possibly cause injury to their eye.
The procedure is very simple. A small incision will be made along the front of the eyelid or in the back of the eyelid. As the fluid is drain pressure will be applied quickly to absorb the fluid that comes out. Depending on the location and size of the incision you may or may not need to have stitches. Most patients who have had this done only have minor discomfort and will recover quickly. You will need to be driven home because there will be some padding on your eyes which is removed after five to six hours.
After you have had the surgery you will have to use prescribed medicated eye drops to prevent any infection and to help control swelling. For at least the first week, maybe longer, you will have to keep your eyelids clean and dry. You will also have to make sure that you are protecting the eye. Recovery time can take from ten to fourteen days.
After surgery you will need to:
- Make sure when you take a shower or washing your face that you protect your eyes from coming in contact with water for ten days.
- You should avoid putting makeup on your eyes for at least thirty days. To ensure that nothing is going to get in your eyes try to avoid putting on any makeup on your face.
- If there are stitches the ophthalmologist will remove those seven to ten days after you have the surgery.
- After the operation you will be given glasses to wear so you can drive.
- Avoid working in extremely bright light but after a couple of days you can start working in normal light.
This is an effective safe treatment for a chalazion cyst but there are rare complications that can happen like blood loss and infection. There is also a slight risk that over time it could recur.