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Having a lump on your eyelid is annoying, can be uncomfortable and is often recurrent or persistent. An eyelid cyst is also known as a chalazion, a stye or hordeolum.

What is a Chalazion?

Chalazion is a clogged oil gland located on your eyelids.  It could be on either the upper or lower eyelid.

Meibomian glands, also known as tarsal glands, are located along the edge of the eyelids. They are an essential part of the eye, keeping it healthy and lubricated. They secrete fatty and oily meibum, and with every blink (with help from a tiny muscle called the Riolan’s muscle), they spread a thin film over the tear film to slow the tear film’s evaporation. Meibum also protects tears from spilling down to the cheek by trapping tears between the edge of the eyelid and the eyeball. It also makes the eyelid airtight when closed. Meibomian glands are located on both the upper (about 50 glands) and lower (about 25 glands) eyelids.

Glands of Zeis are also sebaceous (oil) glands that protect the surface of the eyelid, adding a protective layer to the top of the tear film. These glands secrete sebum to the middle section of the eyelash follicle, keeping it lubricated, and keeping the eyelashes from becoming brittle.

Glands of Moll are located at the base of the eyelashes. They are modified sweat glands, secreting sebum. However, unlike Zeis glands, these secretions contain immune system ingredients: the enzyme lysozyme, mucin 1, and immunoglobulin A, which suggest that they are part of the localized eyelid immune system. Their function is not precisely known, but they may be protecting against pathogens on the surface of the eye.1 Further research supports this hypothesis with the discovery of additional immune-system components.2

Chalazion Symptoms

Chalazia (plural of chalazion) do not involve redness, soreness, and swelling. Twenty-five percent of chalazia show no symptoms other than the visible bump, and they usually disappear without treatment. But they can grow to a bothersome size and even blur vision, because they distort the shape of the eye.

What does a chalazion look like?

  • A hard nodule or swelling in the eyelid, typically a little farther from the edge than a stye, or sometimes on the underneath of the eyelid
  • Red, swollen eyelid
  • The skin outside of the chalazion usually isn’t tender and can be moved around easily without pain.
  • Blurry vision which could result if the swelling due to a chalazion on the upper lid is enough to press on the cornea.

Types of Chalazia

Chalazia can be categorized as either superficial or deep, depending on the glands that are blocked.

  • Inflammation of a meibomian glandleads to a deep chalazion.
  • Inflammation of a Zeis glandleads to a superficial chalazion.

As mentioned above, chalazia often disappear on their own. If recurring, or if the chalazia does not resolve, the root cause is typically chronic dry eyes. In rare cases the chalazia may be cancerous. The eye doctor will drain the contents and review the test results, if needed.

Chalazion Versus Styes

Sometimes chalazia look like styes, becoming red, swollen, and tender. Other characteristics between chalazion and stye are:

  • Chalazia tend to develop farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes, grow more slowly, and are typically larger.
  • Styes are smaller and more superficial than chalazia, usually look like a pimple, and have a small white dot in their center indicating an infection. Do not pop a stye because it is infectious.

Who is at Risk for chalazion?

  • Those who get stieswhere the infection resolves but the white blood cells and fatty cell secretions don’t completely drain and instead form a hard bump;
  • Those suffer from rosacea with papules and pustules, especially around the eyes;
  • Those suffer from blepharitis, or eyelid inflammation;
  • Those with meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)
  • Those who have seborrhoeic dermatitis- eczema on the skin;
  • Women who are pregnant;
  • Those with adult-onset diabetes.

Natural Chalazion Treatment

Chalazia take longer to heal than styes. In most cases they will resolve naturally in several weeks to months. Here are some things you can do at home:

  • Diet and digestion. Diseases of the eyelid are often the result of a relationship between poor digestion and diet. These imbalances can be prevented and improved by following diet and nutrition recommendations, including eliminating fried foods, eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and using nutritional supplements. Acupuncture treatments may help as well.
  • TheraLife Eye capsules – is an all natural dry eye treatment to prevent recurring chalazia due to dry eyes. See more description Here.
  • Compress. Apply a hot gel compress that you heat up in the microwave oven. Take care not to burn your eyelids. Apply to the affected area and hold it in place until it cools.  Recommended application time is 10 minutes, 2-3 times per day for 1-2 weeks.
  • Hygiene. Good eye hygiene is indicated, so use an eyelid cleanser on a cotton swab to wash the eye lids. We highly recommend Avenova Eyelid Cleanser.
  • Don’t rub. Avoid rubbing the eyes, further irritating them.
  • Don’t squeeze. Never squeeze or try to pop the lump, as this will cause inflammation, infection or damage to the delicate tissues of the eyelid.

Chalazion treatment by massaging

  • You should use your fingers to apply pressure to the cyst, massaging upwards if it is on the lower lid, or downwards if it is on the upper lid.
  • Your aim is to get the infected or stagnant contents to discharge onto the surface so that you can wipe them away.
  • The discharge can be green, grey, white or bloodstained and you will often notice an immediate reduction in the size of the cyst when expressed.  If your eyelid is very sore when you try to press or massage it, it is worth taking some paracetamol to help you tolerate the manipulation better.

Infections can cause a chalazion

  • If you have a fever, or redness that is spreading rapidly across the skin of your eyelid, then you need to see a doctor to consider oral antibiotic treatment. In some cases, ophthalmologists associate a chalazion with infection spreading in the surrounding skin, a condition known as pre-septal cellulitis.
  • This can be more common in patients with diabetes or other chronic conditions pre-disposing them to infection, or for those with a suppressed immune system.
  • In these cases, oral antibiotics will help to settle the skin infection. However, the cyst still needs heat and massage. It is essential that children with eyelid cysts who develop associated skin infections are assessed promptly for oral or intravenous antibiotics.
  • The eyelid has several layers and one of those, the septum, separates the outer layers from the inner layers. In adults, the septum has developed fully, and this layer stops a superficial infection from spreading deeper into the tissues around the eyeball and, ultimately, the brain.
  • In children, however, the eyelid septum has not developed fully, and superficial infection may spread rapidly into the deeper eye socket and the brain.
  • This is not a common scenario, but if a child has a chalazion that is red, hot and sore, then you should seek medical help promptly. If the chalazion is skin-coloured and there is no fever, then a child’s chalazion can be treated in the same way as an adult’s, with heat and massage.

Surgical option for a chalazion treatment

  • The majority of eyelid cysts settle with good, consistent heat and massage, and only a minority will need a minor operation.
  • Patients choose to seek an ophthalmic opinion if the cyst has been there for a long time or if they feel it inhibits how they go about their day-to-day activities – avoiding eye contact with others, interfering with contact lens wear, vision or sporting activities and generally making them more self-conscious.
  • As a chalazion is not a serious eye problem, many hospitals and GPs cannot operate on or refer these cysts to opthalmologists for a surgical opinion.
  • Often the chalazion has to be there for six months or severely and demonstrably interfering with vision before the ophthalmologist can assess suitability for surgery.
  • When I am assessing patients with chalazia, I first make sure that they have tried conservative heat and massage treatment appropriately.
  • Incision and curettage is the minor operation we carry out for chalazia.

Beyond Self Help for Chalazion Treatment

Even though a lump in the eyelid is unappealing cosmetically, it is benign and will often resolve with the simple self-care. Please see your eye doctor if it does not resolve or becomes infected, if it is large enough to press on the cornea or if it becomes a persistent problem.

Chalazion treatment – TheraLife can help

Stop recurring chalazia with TheraLife.  Treat your dry eyes to stop the formation of clogged oil glands.

To learn more, click here

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