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What is a chalazion?

A chalazion is a small lump in the eyelid. It is similar to a stye, which is an infection of the edge of the eyelid caused by bacteria. However, a chalazion is away from the edge and is usually not caused by bacteria.

How does it occur?

A chalazion happens when one of the small oil-producing glands in the eyelid becomes blocked. Oil secretions may become trapped and cause the lid to swell. The site of the lump may become infected by bacteria.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

  • a red lump in your eyelid
  • pain near the lump
  • swelling of part or all of the eyelid
  • a feeling that something is in your eye
  • rarely, blurred vision

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your eye. He or she may send a sample of the tissue or fluid from around the lump to a lab to determine if bacteria are present or if the lump occurs for other reasons, such as cancer. Be sure that you tell your provider if you have any changes in your vision.

How is it treated?

Sometimes a chalazion will go away without treatment.

Usually, you will need to put a warm, wet washcloth on the closed eyelid. You may need to do this for at least 3 to 5 minutes at a time, 2 to 4 times a day, for several days. The moist heat helps to reduce inflammation and may help remove the plug that is blocking the oil gland.

If this does not relieve your symptoms, your provider may prescribe steroids in the form of eyedrops or shots into the lump. Other treatment may include antibiotics in the form of eyedrops, ointment, pills, or shots.

If the chalazion is not gone after several weeks, an ophthalmologist (a medical eye doctor) may need to remove the lump during minor surgery. The surgery is generally safe and effective and is usually done with local anesthesia.

How long will the effects last?

Usually the symptoms are gone in 6 weeks. Some people have chalazions frequently and may need to take medicine all the time.

If a chalazion comes back after it is removed, it may need to be removed again and checked for infection or cancer.

How can I help prevent a chalazion?

You may be able to help prevent chalazions from forming or coming back by using warm moist heat and, in severe cases, medicines. Ask your provider if these treatments might work for you.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site:

Disclaimer: This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

HIA File opth4213.htm Release 13/2010

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