Chalazion

Eduardo Besser, MD

Ophthalmologist & Eye Surgeon located in Culver City, CA

A chalazion is one of the most common inflammatory lesions affecting the eyelid. Its symptoms range from a small, painless lump to a painful, eyelid-wide inflammation. Dr. Eduardo Besser encourages patients to schedule an eye exam if a chalazion doesn’t resolve in a few days, worsens, or affects their vision. Please don’t hesitate to call Dr. Besser’s office in the heart of Culver City, California, or use the online booking feature to schedule an appointment.

Chalazion Q & A

What is a chalazion?

A chalazion begins as a small, painless subcutaneous nodule in the eyelid that can progress to cause a red, swollen, painful eyelid. While a chalazion can develop in the upper and lower eyelids, it’s more common on the upper eyelid.

Chalazia originate from obstructed meibomian glands, which are sebaceous glands in the eyelid rim. Meibomian glands secrete lipids that protect the eyes by preventing evaporation of the tear film. When the gland becomes blocked, its fluids leak into surrounding tissues, triggering an inflammatory response, which leads to the formation of the chalazion.

What is the difference between a chalazion and a stye?

A stye, or hordeolum, is an inflamed oil gland that presents as a small, red, painful bump. An external stye develops at the base of an eyelash and is usually caused by a bacterial infection in a hair follicle.

Styes may also develop inside your eyelid, caused by a bacterial infection in a meibomian gland. An untreated stye may resolve on its own or lead to a chalazion.

How is a chalazion treated?

An untreated chalazion may resolve on its own within a few weeks. However, it can also develop an acute secondary infection or become enlarged, placing pressure on the cornea, leading to astigmatism or reduced vision in the superior peripheral visual field.

Treatment depends on the size and severity of the patient’s chalazion and may include:

Conservative care

Gentle eyelid massage and warm compresses applied to the eyelid for 10-15 minutes several times daily help open the blocked gland, allowing oily secretions to drain.

Medical care

Dr. Besser may prescribe steroids or antibiotics to decrease inflammation and eliminate infections. He monitors the intraocular pressure in patients receiving topical steroids. Dr. Besser may treat recurring chalazia prophylactically with systemic tetracyclines or topical macrolide antibiotics, such as erythromycin ointment.

Surgery

When a chalazion doesn’t respond to medical care, is large and symptomatic, or interferes with vision, Dr. Besser may drain the blockage. After injecting a local anesthetic, Dr. Besser makes a small incision and curettes the contents of the chalazion.