A chalazion is a swelling or lump in the eyelid, caused by inflammation of one of the small oil-producing glands located in the upper and lower eyelids. When a chalazion is of sudden onset and acutely inflamed, it is called a stye. Sometimes a chalazion can cause the entire eyelid to swell suddenly, but usually there is a particular tender point.
When a chalazion is small and without symptoms, it may disappear on its own. If the chalazion is large, it may cause blurred vision, by pressing on the cornea. People are also often annoyed by the cosmetic appearance of them. Chalazions are treated with any or a combination of the following methods:
- Warm compresses help to clear the clogged gland
- Steroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation
- Surgery may be used to drain a large chalazion or one that does not respond to other treatments. The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia in your ophthalmologist’s (Eye M.D.’s) office.
- Oral antibiotics, if the whole lid is swollen and inflamed
Chalazions usually respond well to treatment, although some people are prone to recurrences. If a chalazion recurs in the same place or otherwise looks suspicious, your ophthalmologist may suggest a biopsy to rule out a form of cancer called sebaceous cell carcinoma. This is quite rare, fortunately.