A chalazion is a swelling or bump of varying sizes on the eyelid. The swelling usually occurs on the upper eyelid more than the lower one. It is painless. More than one chalazion may appear in the same eyelid at the same time. A chalazion affects both men and women and occurs in people of all age groups.

A chalazion develops from an internal stye (hordeolum). A stye is a painful small red lump that grows under the eyelid. It is caused by a bacterial infection in an oil-producing gland. The gland causing the stye will sometimes fail to drain even when the redness and swelling in the eyelid goes away. The clogged gland will then give rise to a firm nodule in the eye that is not tender. This nodule is called a chalazion. 
If the chalazion continues to expand, it may press on the eye and cause a blurry vision. Rarely will a chalazion cause an entire eyelid to swell.

Also Known As

  • Meibomian cyst
  • Tarsal cyst



Causes and Risk Factors

It is caused by a blocked oil gland in the eye. The gland is located in the eyelid directly behind the eyelashes. 
Chronic inflammation of the eye gland openings may cause one. 
Poor eyelid hygiene also increases likelihood for one to occur. 
Children who constantly rub their eyes may trigger its development. 
People of certain skin types are more predisposed to a chalazion.
Those at risk of getting a chalazion include:

  • Those who have had a chalazion or stye
  • Those with blepharitis ( a problem that affects the edge of the eyelid)
  • Those with medical conditions such as diabetes
  • Those with skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis and so on

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of a chalazion include:

  • Tender eyelid
  • Warm eyelid
  • Red eyelid
  • Swollen eyelid
  • Blurry vision (if the chalazion is large enough)


The eye care professional may do the following to diagnose a chalazion: 

  • Examine a patient’s general health to determine if there is an eye problem
  • Examine the lid structure, skin texture, and eyelash appearance
  • Evaluate the lid margins, the oil gland openings, and the base of the eyelashes using bright light and magnification


Treatment is aimed towards unblocking the gland for the bump to disappear.

Medical Treatment

Most chalazia disappear on their own within days or weeks. Sometimes, they can take months to completely heal. 
A patient can use anti-inflammatory eye drops or ointments. If there is an infection in the surrounding eyelid tissue, oral antibiotics may come into play. For very swollen chalazia, the eye doctor may use a steroid injection (cortisone) to relieve the swelling.

Surgical Treatment

Sometimes the chalazion is large, swollen, or persistent. In such a case, a surgical procedure using local anesthesia may be required to drain the liquid. Young children will require general anesthesia for the surgery. For stubborn chalazia, the surgeon may conduct a biopsy to rule out any additional problems.

Home Care

Warm compresses function well to unblock the oil. The compresses should be applied to the eyelid for 10 to 15 minutes, four to six times every day. This treatment should continue for several days. The action will drain the oil and allow healing to take place. 
A compress can be created by immersing a piece of soft, clean cloth in warm water. It should then be wrung out. Reusable heat masks are available for this purpose too. A gentle massage on the external eyelids several minutes daily can also promote drainage.

Prognosis/Long-term outlook

Large, chronic chalazia can cause astigmatism and reduced vision when pressure is exerted on the cornea. 
Patients with chronic chalazia will need to use oral antibiotics as prescribed by the doctor.

Prevention/Follow Up

Chalazia can be prevented by consistently observing good eyelid hygiene. This can be done daily using pre-moistened eyelid cleansing wipes. 
The doctor may prescribe eyeglasses to improve vision and prevent the development of amblyopia (lazy eye) in children. The prescription is due to the complications that develop from chronic chalazia in children. 
Patients are advised to avoid squeezing out the bump since it may lead to infection in the eyelid.