Chalazion is a round, slowly emerging, localized swelling, in the form of a cyst located on the lower or upper eyelid. (Chalazion is the Greek word for "hailstone" which represents the size of the lump that makes up the cyst.) The usually painless, grainy (granulomatous) mass is due to inflammation, obstruction, and retained secretions of one of the glands that lubricates the edge of the eyelids. These glands secrete sebum, an oily, protective fluid. If one or more of the ducts that drain these glands is blocked, the sebum accumulates under the skin to form a cyst.
In rare cases, if the cyst is large, blurred vision may result due to pressure on the cornea, the front, clear portion of the eye through which light passes. In some affected individuals, chalazia may disappear spontaneously. However, in other cases, treatment may be required. Individuals with chronic inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis) may be prone to recurrences.
Chalazion is a chronic inflammation of the meibomian gland, a gland of the eyelids that secretes an oily, protective fluid. It is characterized by an irritation and swelling of the eyelid. There may be a small, round, moveable swelling of the meibomian gland. The inflammation is usually painless unless it enlarges and causes an inflammation of the eyelids’ membrane (conjunctiva). Chalazion tends to occur more often on he upper eyelid than on the lower eyelid.
The exact cause of chalazion is not known. It is thought to be caused by a blockage of the duct of the oil-producing meibomian gland. When oil cannot flow through the duct, it accumulates, resulting in a lump on the eyelid. Unlike styes, which form on the edge of the eyelids, chalazia are not the result of bacterial infection.
Chalazia will often subside after a few months. The application of hot compresses, and topical antibiotic ointments such as bacitracin and erythromycin, may be effective. If necessary, surgical removal can be done under local anesthesia, usually in an ophthalmologist's office. The healing process may require wearing an eye patch for about a day.
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