What is a Chalazion?

A chalazion is a painless inflammation characterized by a lump or nodule formed on the upper or lower eyelid. A chalazion is non-communicable and usually does not affect vision, but a large lump can put pressure on the eye. Chalazion is commonly seen in adults 30 to 50 years of age, and also in children.

Symptoms Associated with Chalazia

A chalazion may look similar to a sty, which is a painful red lump that occurs as a result of infection of the eyelid glands. A chalazion manifests as a painless, red, tender bump on the eyelid and causes excess tearing. It starts out very small, but can soon grow into a bump the size of a pea. Chalazions may cause blurred vision, due to pressure exerted on the eye by a large chalazion. Very rarely, they may indicate an infection or skin cancer.

How Does a Chalazion Develop?

The meibomian glands present in the lining of the eyelid lubricate the eye surface. Blockage of these glands may result in the accumulation of oil in the gland until it eventually breaks open, releasing the oil into the neighbouring tissue. This is what causes the inflammation producing the chalazion.

Risk Factors for Developing a Chalazion

Certain factors increase the risk of developing a chalazion. These may include

  • Chronic blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids or eye lashes)
  • Acne rosacea (redness due to blockage of blood vessels on the face)
  • Seborrhoea (overactive sebaceous glands causing oily skin)
  • Tuberculosis
  • Viral infection

Diagnosing a Chalazion

Diagnosis of a chalazion is based on medical history and the physical examination of the eyes as well as eyelid margins.

Treatment for Chalazia

Most chalazia may subside without the need for any treatment in a few weeks to a month, but they often reoccur. Treatment is the same as for a stay, which includes regular application of warm and wet compressions on your child’s eyes for about 15 minutes throughout the day. Topical antibiotic medication may also be prescribed for the eye. Children will be advised to maintain eye hygiene by regularly washing their hands and rinsing their eyes with warm water. When symptoms do not improve, surgical removal of the chalazion may be recommended.