Chalazion, also known as eye cyst or meibomian cyst, is a lump on the eyelid that occurs because of blocked oil glands. This can affect the lower or upper eyelid and generally goes away on its own. It is not a tumour and doesn't cause any permanent damage to vision. It is different from a stye.
There are tiny glands located on the eyelid margin that produce an oily fluid that helps lubricate the eye. These glands are called meibomian glands or palpebral glands. When these glands are blocked, the fluid can't escape and expands into a swelling. With time because of inflammation, a nodule is formed which is a solid lump. The risk is more for people who have a history of the chalazion or have a habit of touching eyelids with unclean hands.
Here are some of the symptoms of eye chalazion:
- Lump on the eyelid
- Mild pain or irritation
- Increased tearing
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
In most cases, doctors diagnose the condition by taking a close look at the lump on the eyelid and asking for the symptoms. Depending upon that the doctor will decide whether it's a chalazion, stye or something else.
Chalazion is easy to treat and shouldn't cause any major problems with vision. Medical advice is recommended if the chalazion is large enough to block vision. Heat treatment with hot compresses with regular lid cleansing is the first step of treatment. It may actually release the contents of the cyst. Cleansing involves massaging the lid margin with hot flannel or hot kitchen towel.
If this treatment is not effective, then it can be removed with a minor surgical procedure. The eyelids are numbed using an anaesthetic injection and the lump is removed from the inside the eye. Antibiotic ointments are applied followed by an eye pad that may be removed after a couple of hours. An ointment is given for a week. Chalazion surgery is the last option as most chalazia go away on their own with hot compresses.
One can prevent getting an eye chalazion by keeping dirt off the eyelids and keeping hands and face clean. Applying warm compresses on eyelids for few minutes before going to bed also helps and reduces chances of getting a chalazion.