Chalazion (Lump in Eyelid)

Chalazion (Lump in Eyelid)

A chalazion is a lump in the eyelid that is caused by inflammation of a gland within the skin. Typically, this lump grows over days to weeks and is occasionally red, warm, or painful.

The gland involved in the formation of a chalazion is a modified sweat gland that lies within the eyelid. This gland produces oil. When this gland becomes blocked, it can rupture and the inflammation process begins.

  • Inflammation is a process in which the body reacts to a condition and produces a biologic reaction. This reaction can cause swelling, redness, pain, or warmth.
  • A chalazion is not a sty. A sty can resemble a chalazion in the sense that it is also a lump in the eyelid. However, a sty involves glands and eyelash hair follicles that are closer to the skin surface of the eyelid. In addition, a sty is usually more painful and looks infected. 

A chalazion is caused by the oil in the gland becoming too thick to flow out of the gland. This oil that is too thick blocks up the gland, but the gland still produces more oil.

Without anywhere to go, the oil builds up inside the gland and forms a lump in the eyelid. Eventually, the gland ruptures (breaks open) and releases the oil into the tissue of the eyelid, causing inflammation.

Your ophthalmologist takes a medical history and performs a physical examination. The examination includes an inspection of the back of the eyelid and the eye itself. The ophthalmologist also tests your vision.

If the swelling has lasted more than a few weeks, your ophthalmologist may recommend surgery to remove the chalazion.

  • Swelling of the upper or lower eyelid may occur gradually over weeks.
  • A chalazion appears as a localized hard lump that may grow as large as one cm.
  • Occasionally, you may feel pain and your eyelid may be red. 

Treatment of the chalazion may include the following:

  • Application of warm compresses for about 15 minutes, 2-4 times a day, to reduce swelling
  • A prescription for antibiotic eyedrops or ointments if a bacterial infection is suspected to be the cause
  • Injection of a steroid medicine to help decrease the inflammation
  • Surgical removal of the lump if it creates symptoms or lasts for weeks