A chalazion (plural = chalazia) appears as a bump on the upper or lower eyelid. The bump is a result of an obstruction of a gland located in the tarsus, the stiff portion of the eyelid. This gland is normally responsible for producing a soothing oil component of the tear film. However, if the glands become obstructed a chalazion may result. This most commonly occurs due to a condition called blepharitis. One of the most common causes of ocular surface symptoms such as dry eye, tearing and redness, blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. It has numerous causes such as age and hormonal changes and can be associated with other conditions, most commonly acne rosacea. It is made worse by smoking, eyelid makeup and contact lens use.
What are the symptoms?
Chalazia appear as swollen bumps that are generally red in color. These can occur on the inside of the eyelid, the edge of the eyelid near the lashes, or on the eyelid skin. They can present as tiny non-painful swollen glands on the edge of the lid or develop into large painful masses than can cause severe eyelid or even cheek swelling.
A chalazion will normally resolve on its own within a few weeks but can be helped along with simple treatment measures and with medication. To aid in opening the blocked gland and soothing the eye, you can use shower temperature warm compresses – simply run a washcloth or wad of clean paper towels under warm water and hold over the affected eye while performing a gentle massage. You do not want to generate friction or use water that is too hot – this will irritate your eyelids. At OCLI we have a gel mask that can be microwaved to retain heat and that molds to the contour of the eye socket.
You should temporarily discontinue makeup and contact lenses while treating your chalazia. Rubbing and sleeping on that side should be avoided – this can worsen the inflammation. Artificial tears and ointment can be used to help with any irritation.
Drs. Garibaldi and Wong can prescribe medication to help speed the resolution of a chalazion – these may include topical drops, ointments or oral doxycycline.
If the chalazion is chronic, it may require surgical intervention. This is a minor, in-office procedure, which helps to reduce inflammation by draining the chalazion. As board certified ophthalmologists fellowship trained in oculoplastic surgery Drs. Garibaldi and Wong are uniquely suited to remove your chalazion and achieve the optimal cosmetic result.
If you are experiencing a chalazion, be sure to contact OCLI for an appointment.