A chalazion is a painless bump that can manifest on your upper or lower eyelid.
Chalazion typically results from healed internal styes that are no longer infected or painful. These eyelid bumps form around an oil gland causing a blockage that does not allow the oil to drain, which then causes red, swollen eyelids.
Chalazion contents include pus and blocked fatty secretions called lipids that normally help lubricate the eye surface but can no longer drain out due to the blockage
Chalazion typically drains and resolves on its own, however, applying warm compresses several times per day for 10 minutes to your eyelid can facilitate a quicker resolution to this problem. Following the warm compresses, a gentle lid massage is recommended to help the now softer oils to express from the blocked gland.
In some cases, though, Chalazion will not self-resolve and they can grow large enough to become a cosmetical issue. Additionally, a large chalazion may press on the cornea which can cause changes in your prescription and cause blurry vision.
The cause of chalazion is multifactorial. Both blepharitis and rosacea are known to have a higher incidence of chalazion (and styes).
Rosacea can affect several areas of the eye including the conjunctiva (the eye's thin outer membrane), the cornea (the clear eye surface), and the sclera (the white of the eye)
Rosacea typically affects people's skin, causing facial redness and swollen bumps under the skin. When rosacea affects the eye and eyelids it is called ocular rosacea.
The causes of rosacea are multifactorial but certain environmental and inheritance plays a part in its development. Additionally, microorganisms (called Demodex mites) living in or near eyelash roots exacerbate inflammation around the eye and are typically associated with causing blepharitis.
Though many chalazion is self-limiting, it is recommended that you consult with your eye doctor so the best method of treating them can be determined. Your doctor will instruct you on how to apply warm compresses to your eyelid. If there is associated blepharitis, your doctor may prescribe a topical medication for additional treatment. For patients prone to blepharitis, your doctor will provide instructions for routine cleaning of your eyelids.
Since chalazion is not infectious, treatment with either topical or oral antibiotics is ineffective.
In cases where the chalazion does not clear up on its own or with the treatment of warm compresses, a simple in-office surgery to excise it may be necessary. Early intervention can prevent the chalazion from getting to the stage requiring in-office surgery.
Should in-office surgery be required, your eye surgeon will numb the part of the eyelid where the chalazion is located using local anesthesia. Once numb, the surgeon will make a small incision underneath the eyelid (which will leave no visible scarring) to remove the chalazion contents.
Some surgeons may opt to treat the chalazion with a corticosteroid injection. The possible side effect of a steroid injection is a lightening of the surrounding skin which would be a problem for people with darker skin.
Should you have recurrent chalazion in the same part of the eyelid or if the chalazion has a suspicious appearance, your doctor may biopsy the tissue and send it to a laboratory to rule out a cancerous growth. The good news is that most eyelid bumps are benign and harmless.