A chalazion is a cyst caused by a blocked meibomian gland in the eyelid. These cysts can develop on either the upper or lower eyelids. Meibomian glands in the eyelid produce an oil which helps keep the eye moist. If the gland becomes blocked, the oil builds up into a cyst which looks like a small lump in the eyelid. The lump can become irritated and red and, occasionally, infected.
What causes chalazion?
Lid cysts are common, both in adults and children. When someone develops cysts repeatedly, he/she could have blepharitis, a long-term mild irritation at the edge of the eyelids, which is not usually harmful but can affect the eyes.
How can chalazion be treated?
Cysts can disappear with time but can take weeks, months or years, to go and can cause pain, discomfort, look unsightly and affect vision.
Hot compresses might speed up the resolution of cysts. Use clean cotton wool or a clean flannel soaked in very warm water (be sure it’s not hot enough to burn). Squeeze out excess water and place the flannel or cotton wool on your closed eyelids over the cyst for two minutes at a time (rewarming regularly) twice daily. Heat packs can also be used.
Occasionally, you will be prescribed a short course of antibiotic ointment or drops to help any irritation and, if there is an infection spreading from the cyst, you will be prescribed antibiotics by mouth. However, medication does not directly treat the cause of the cysts or cause them to disappear.