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“Ugh!” “Ewwww” “Yuck” “Oh no!” How we detest a clogged drainage! Ever wondered what happens when the drainage duct of the eyelids gets blocked?

What is a chalazion?

A chalazion is a bump on your eyelid that is caused by blockage of the drainage duct of an oil gland in the upper or lower eyelid.

Eyelid glands are called meibominan glands. There are about 30 to 40 of these glands in each of your upper and lower eyelids. The work of these glands is to produce a thick liquid secretion which is discharged into the tear film of your eye.The liquid serves the purpose of lubrication of your eye’s surface. The liquid comes out of tiny openings of the glands at the margins of the lid just behind your eyelashes.

It may be soft and fluid filled or slightly firm.

A chalazion is also called a tarsal cyst or a meibomian cyst.

Although a stye is also a lump in the eyelid caused by blockage of an oil gland, it differs from a chalazion in that a sty is an infection of the gland while a chalazion is just an inflammation. (An inflammation is the reaction of our body to a condition). A stye is generally more painful than a chalazion and disappears after a week or so.

What causes a chalazion?

The tiny opening through which the meibomian gland secretes the oily fluid gets clogged either due to thickening of the fluid near the opening or narrowing of the opening. Without anywhere to go, the oily fluid builds up inside the gland. This leads to thickening of the walls of the gland and leakage of the oil into the lid itself causing a swelling of the gland and the eyelid.

You can be at a higher risk of developing a chalazion if:

You do not remove eye makeup thoroughly

Use contaminated or old cosmetics

Suffer from skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or acnea rosacea

Are a diabetic

Do I have a chalazion? (Signs and Symptoms)

About a quarter of chalazia show no symptoms and go away on their own.

A chalazion is seen as a localised lump which can grow as big as 1/8th of an inch.

Swelling of the eyelid occurs slowly over weeks.

Sometimes, it may turn red and may cause pain.

Rarely, it can cause blurry vision by distorting the eye’s shape.

What are the tests for chalazia?

Generally no special tests are needed.

Your Ophthalmologist will do an examination of your eyes and eyelids

How are chalazia treated?

Warm Compress: Soak a clean cloth in hot water and apply it for 1 to 10 minutes on your eyelid. You can repeat this 2-4 times in a day. The warmth promotes blood circulation to the area to hasten healing. It will also allow the clogged gland to open up. Massage around the chalazion gently so that the drainage of the liquid is aided. Do not pop or scratch the lump.



Antibiotic Ointments: These may be given if the chalazion gets infected with bacteria.

Steroid Injections: These are sometimes given to decrease the swelling.

Surgery: If it does not heal even after other treatments or if vision is affected, it may need to be drained surgically. This is done under local anesthesia.

What is the prognosis?

A chalazion usually resolves in two weeks.

It is not contagious.

It is not a tumor and does not turn cancerous.