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A chalazion is a form of cyst that forms on the eyelid. Learn more about what they are, what causes them and how they can be treated.

What is a chalazion?

A chalazion is a cyst on the eyelid that forms when an oil gland near the eyelid becomes blocked; discharged fluid from the gland accumulates, forming a cyst. A chalazion is benign (non-cancerous), and the most common type of benign eyelid cyst.

What is the difference between a chalazion and a stye?

A stye, also known as a hordeolum, is a small lump that can grow under the eyelid or on the edge of the eyelid from the base of the eyelash. Styes are painful and red, and are mostly caused by a bacterial infection.

A chalazion can develop from an under-eyelid stye, but unlike a stye it tends not to be painful.

What causes a chalazion?

There are glands in the eyelids that produce oil which coats the surface of the eye to prevent tears from evaporating – these are called the meibomian glands. These glands can get blocked due to factors including inflammation. The oil they secrete then collects into a cyst on the eyelid.

Other causes include:

  • A stye under the eyelid
  • A bacterial infection of the eye

What are the symptoms of a chalazion?

Symptoms of a chalazion can include:

  • A lump, usually on the upper eyelid
  • Usually painless but there may be some mild pain
  • Watering eyes and irritation as the oil from the blocked glands is needed to coat the eye
  • Blurred vision if a chalazion grows and pushes against the eyeball

How to treat a chalazion

Chalazia tend to go away on their own in a few weeks. Make sure you do not try to squeeze or pop the chalazion as this can worsen the condition.

Treat a chalazion at home

  • Create a warm compress by dipping a clean cloth in warm water. Hold this to the area of the chalazion for 10-15 minutes two to three times a day – this will warm the oil in the glands and help open up the blockage. Continue this treatment until the chalazion subsides
  • Keep your eyelids clean and make sure your hands are clean before coming into contact with your eyelids

If a chalazion hasn’t subsided in a few weeks, you may need to visit an eye specialist to have the chalazion surgically drained.

Chalazion surgery

To remove a chalazion, a hidden incision can be made underneath the eyelid under local anaesthetic to drain the cyst. This procedure normally takes about 15 minutes. Find out more about the procedure and pricing here.

How to prevent a chalazion

You can lower the chances of chalazia and other eye complications developing by avoiding touching your eyes and making sure your hands are clean if you do need to touch your eyes, for example when you’re using contact lenses.

Cleansing your eyelids will help clear makeup or dirt that could block your glands.

Refer to our eyelid cyst removal procedure page for more information on surgery options and pricing. 

Surgery to remove eyelid cysts

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