A chalazion is a benign eyelid cyst sometimes confused with a stye. But unlike the latter, a chalazion is usually painless. This eye condition can occur at any age and is most often treated at home. Find out more about chalazion, its causes, symptoms and how to treat it.

What is a chalazion?

Obstruction of a meibomian gland causes a chalazion. The meibomian glands are located along the upper and lower eyelids just behind the eyelashes. These glands produce an oily substance (meibum) that mixes with the tear fluid and limits its evaporation when in contact with the air.

A chalazion occurs when a meibomian gland is obstructed, and a small nodule forms on the eyelid edge over time. In most cases, a chalazion is benign and painless, although its presence can be uncomfortable.

Sometimes the chalazion can be painful. This is a sign that the meibomian gland has become infected. The swelling may then spread to the entire eyelid, accompanied by redness, tearing and blurred vision.

The duration of a chalazion ranges from a few weeks to about 2 months. This eye condition usually improves spontaneously with the application of warm compresses. However, if you have a painful chalazion, make an appointment for an eye exam to get a diagnosis. Our eye care professionals will be able to give you precise indications of the treatment to follow.

What causes a chalazion?

The most common cause of chalazion formation is the composition of the meibum. Indeed, when this oily substance becomes too thick, it can block one or more meibomian glands. Did you know that you have between 25 and 30 meibomian glands per eyelid?

One of the underlying causes is the formation of a chalazion due to fatigue. When the body does not have enough time to rest properly, the functioning of the eyes—and consequently, the meibomian glands—are no longer optimal. A healthy lifestyle and a good night's sleep are essential to keep your eyes healthy.

Some pathologies increase the risk of chalazion formation:

  • Meibomian gland dysfunction
  • Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid margin)
  • Diabetes
  • Some autoimmune diseases
  • Acne rosacea

If a chalazion recurs frequently, it is important to follow up with eye care professionals. They will be able to detect any underlying problems.

What are the symptoms of a chalazion?

After a few days, a chalazion appears as a small nodule or swelling in the eyelid. Sometimes, the swelling spreads to the entire eyelid, leading to partial or total eye closure.

Depending on size and location, a chalazion can cause discomfort, watery eyes and slightly blurred vision.

In the case of an infection, the eyelid may become red, painful and warm.

What is the treatment for a chalazion?

When a chalazion is benign and painless, the treatment consists mainly of applying warm compresses. Sterile compresses applied for 5 to 10 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day, are often effective in accelerating healing. In addition, they have the advantage of resting the eyes and relieving the symptoms.

In the case of a chalazion that does not go away or becomes infected, drainage or medication may be prescribed.

We also recommend not wearing makeup or contact lenses during the treatment. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or visit your nearest IRIS store.