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Chalazion (Lump in Eyelid)

Chalazion Quick Overview

What Is a Chalazion?

  • The definition of a chalazion is a lump of the lid that is caused by obstruction of the drainage duct of an oil gland within the upper or lower eyelid. This lump may increase in size over days to weeks and may occasionally become red, warm, or painful.
  • The gland involved in the formation of a chalazion is a modified oil gland (meibomian gland) that lies within the eyelid. These glands secrete oil into the tears. When one of these glands becomes blocked, it can increase in size and cause a visible lump.
  • A chalazion is not a growth or tumor. It is usually painless, although the area may be somewhat tender to touch. It is fairly common and will often disappear on its own or with treatment with moist heat applications.

Chalazion Causes

Each of the oil glands, called meibomian glands, produces oil that flows out of the gland into the tears. There are about 30 to 40 of these glands within each of the upper and lower lids. The oil exits from each gland through a tiny circular opening just behind the eyelashes of the upper and lower lids of both eyes. A chalazion is caused by the oil in the gland becoming too thick to flow out of the gland or the opening of the gland being obstructed. Without anywhere to go, the oil builds up inside the gland and forms a lump or type of cyst in the eyelid. The gland wall may break, releasing the oil into the tissue of the eyelid, causing inflammation and sometimes scar tissue. Alternative names for a chalazion include conjunctival granuloma, conjunctival lipogranuloma, or meibomian gland lipogranuloma.

Chalazion vs. stye (sty): Although a stye is also a lump in the eyelid caused by obstruction of an oil gland, a chalazion is not a stye. A stye, or hordeolum, represents an acute infection of the gland. A chalazion is not an infection but is an inflammation of the area. Inflammation is a process in which the body reacts to a condition and produces swelling, redness, pain, or warmth. A stye is usually more painful than a chalazion and may appear infected.

Chalazion Risk Factors

Risk factors for a chalazion include a prior history of a chalazion, acne rosacea, a family history of chalazion, and oily skin.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/3/2015

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Chalazion vs. Hordeolum (Stye)

Styes and chalazia are lumps in or along the edge of an eyelid. They may be painful or annoying, but they are rarely serious. Most will go away on their own without treatment.

  • A stye is an infection that causes a tender red lump on the eyelid. Most styes occur along the edge of the eyelid. When a stye occurs inside the eyelid, it is called an internal hordeolum (say "hor-dee-OH-lum").
  • A chalazion (say "kuh-LAY-zee-on") is a lump in the eyelid. Chalazia (plural) may look like styes, but they are usually larger and may not hurt.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Chalazion »

A chalazion (Greek for hailstone) is a lipogranuloma of either a meibomian gland or a Zeis gland.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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