Chalazion Eyelid Bump Symptoms and Treatments

Stye or chalazion on a child's eye
Getty Images/Gail Shumway

A chalazion is a bump in the eyelid caused by a blockage of an oil gland called a Meibomian gland. These glands, located near the eyelashes, produce fluid that lubricates the eye. If a Meibomian gland becomes blocked, oil inside builds up; and if the gland eventually ruptures, the oil inside is released into the eyelid, causing inflammation. This resulting cyst, or lump, typically grows over several days to weeks.

Symptoms

Although usually painless, a chalazion can sometimes be red, warm, swollen or painful. A chalazion may disappear on its own after a few months, though treatment is sometimes necessary. 

The most common symptoms of a chalazion include the following:

  • a tender spot on the eyelid
  • a newly formed hard lump on your eyelid
  • increased tears
  • blurry vision
  • light sensitivity 

Treatment

Most of the time, a chalazion will disappear on its own. Treatment of a chalazion usually involves applying warm compresses at least two times per day, for 10 minutes at a time, which helps soften and unblock the gland and promote draining and healing. You may also try to massage the lump gently a few times per day in an effort to drain it.

If the chalazion is still bothering you after a few weeks, you should ask your doctor about other treatment options that may be of help to you. For instance, if your chalazion is infected it will require oral antibiotics. 

If your chalazion remains even after home treatment methods, it may need to be surgically removed. Removal is especially important if it continues to increase in size, as it could begin to block your vision. Sometimes a chalazion can cause the development of astigmatism (an abnormal curving of the cornea) if not properly treated or removed. Although a last resort, surgery may be needed if home treatment and drug therapy do not cause the chalazion to disappear.

Chalazion or Stye?

Sometimes a chalazion can be confused with a stye, a small bump that can appear on the outside or inside of the eyelid. The two types of eyelid lumps are not really difficult to differentiate. A chalazion does not usually cause pain, but a stye can sometimes hurt badly. Also, a chalazion normally develops away from the edge of the eyelid, while styes usually appear on the edge of the eyelid.

What You Should Know

Always see an eye doctor for an accurate diagnosis, even if you feel certain that you have a chalazion. A chalazion is not considered to be a bacterial infection, although a stye is a small abscess. A stye usually causes more pain than a chalazion. Occasionally, styes can harden and become a lot like a chalazion. It is always a good idea to allow a doctor to make a formal diagnosis in order to receive proper treatment.

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Article Sources

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  2. Blepharitis. National Eye Institute. https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/blepharitis. July 2, 2019.

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