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Symptoms and Signs of Chalazion (Lump in Eyelid)

Doctor's Notes on Chalazion (Lump in Eyelid) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Home Remedies

chalazion is a bump or lump in the upper or lower eyelid that arises due to inflammation of a gland of the lid known as a Meibomian gland.  Other names for a chalazion include Meibomian cyst, tarsal cyst, or conjunctival granuloma. The cause of a chalazion is blockage of the thin opening through which a Meibomian gland of the eyelid secretes its material. The blockage can either be related to narrowing of the opening or hardening of the sebaceous fluid near the opening.

Associated symptoms and signs include a small bump on the eyelid that can be soft or firm. A chalazion is usually not painful. There may be fluid inside the lump. If the blocked gland becomes infected with bacteria, it may become tender to the touch. An infected chalazion is known as a hordeolum or sty.

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Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Chalazion (Lump in Eyelid) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Home Remedies Symptoms

  • Swelling of the gland may appear abruptly but more commonly develops gradually over weeks.
  • They occur more frequently on the upper lid, probably because there are more meibomian glands in the upper eyelid than in the lower eyelid.
  • A chalazion feels firm or hard to the touch and may enlarge to the size of a green pea. Occasionally, a chalazion is painful, particularly if it's very inflamed or infected.
  • The pain frequently is more pronounced when the chalazion first forms.
  • Drainage from the gland may cause irritation of the conjunctival and corneal surface of the eye.
  • The overlying or surrounding eyelid skin may be red. The palpebral conjunctiva (the tissue lining the back side of the eyelid) may also be swollen and red.

Chalazion (Lump in Eyelid) Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Home Remedies Causes

Each of the meibomian oil glands produces oil that flows out of the gland onto the eye's surface. There are about 40-50 meibomian glands within the upper lid and about 25 within the lower lid. They are actually located within the tarsal plate, which is a firm tissue located under the skin of the 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 of the eyelid gland and forms a type of meibomian cyst. The trapped oily material can have the texture of solid butter or even hardened wax. The gland wall may leak, releasing the oil into the tissue of the eyelid, causing inflammation and sometimes scar tissue. Alternative names for a chalazion include conjunctival granuloma, internal hordeolum, conjunctival lipogranuloma, or meibomian gland lipogranuloma.

Chalazion vs. Stye (Sty)

A stye is also a lump or cyst in the eyelid caused by obstruction of an eyelid gland. A stye, or hordeolum, is a plugged oil or sweat gland in the skin of the eyelid and usually resolves much more quickly than a chalazion. Like a chalazion, a stye may start out as an inflammation but can become infected as well.

Common Eye Problems and Infections Slideshow

Common Eye Problems and Infections Slideshow

When it comes to signs of eye disease, Americans are blind to the facts. A recent survey showed that while nearly half (47%) of Americans worry more about going blind than losing their memory or their ability to walk or hear, almost 30% of those surveyed admitted to not getting their eyes checked.

The following slides take a look at some of the signs and symptoms of some of the most common eye diseases.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.