Chalazion (Meibomian cyst)
Chalazion (also known as Meibomian cyst) is a common granulomatous inflammation of a meibomian gland that may follow an internal hordeolum. It is characterized by a hard, nontender swelling on the upper or lower lid with redness and swelling of the adjacent conjunctiva. Treatment is usually by incision and curettage but corticosteroid injection may also be effective.
What is a stye?
A stye (also called a hordeolum) is a small, red, painful lump that grows from the base of your eyelashes or under the eyelid. Most styes are caused by a bacterial infection.
There are two kinds of styes:
External hordeolum: A stye that begins at the base of your eyelash. Most are caused by an infection in the hair follicle. It might look like a pimple.
Internal hordeolum: A stye inside your eyelid. Most are caused by an infection in an oil-producing gland in your eyelid.
You can also get a stye if you have blepharitis. This is a condition that makes your eyelids at the base of the eyelashes red and swollen.
What is the difference between a stye and a chalazion?
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between a stye and a chalazion.
A stye is very painful. It often appears at the eyelid’s edge, usually caused by an infected eyelash root. It often swells, sometimes affecting the entire eyelid.
A chalazion is not usually painful. It is a bump that usually develops farther back on the eyelid than a stye. It is caused by a clogged oil gland. Rarely does it make the entire eyelid swell.
Signs and symptoms of Chalazion
- Painless swelling on the eyelid
- Eyelid tenderness typically none-to-mild
- Increased tearing
- Heaviness of the eyelid
- Redness of conjunctiva
A chalazion or meibomian cyst can sometimes be mistaken for a stye.
- Sebaceous gland adenoma
- Sebaceous gland carcinoma
- Sarcoid granuloma
- Foreign body granuloma
A large chalazion can cause astigmatism due to pressure on the cornea.
As laser eye surgery involves shaping the cornea by burning parts of it away, weakening its structure, post-operation people can be left predisposed to deformation of the cornea from small chalazia.
Complications of corticosteroid injection include hypopigmentation, and fat atrophy which is less likely to occur in conjunctival approach of injection.
A chalazion that reoccurs in the same area may rarely be a symptom of sebaceous cell carcinoma.
Soak a clean washcloth in hot water and hold it to your eyelid for 10–15 minutes at a time, 3–5 times a day. Keep the cloth warm by soaking it in hot water often. For a chalazion, this warm compress helps the clogged oil gland to open and drain. You can help the gland clear itself by gently massaging around the area with your clean finger.
If your chalazion is very swollen, your ophthalmologist may give you a steroid shot (cortisone) to reduce the swelling.
Surgery to drain the area
If your stye or chalazion affects vision or does not go away, you may need to have it drained. This surgery is usually done in the doctor’s office using local anesthesia.
If a stye or chalazion keeps coming back time after time, your ophthalmologist may biopsy it. This is where a tiny piece of tissue is removed and studied. This helps your ophthalmologist check to see if there is a more serious eye problem.
Do not squeeze or try to pop a stye or chalazion
Doing so could spread the infection into your eyelid. Do not wear eye makeup or contact lenses while you have a stye or chalazion.
Topical antibiotic eye drops or ointment (e.g., chloramphenicol or fusidic acid) are sometimes used for the initial acute infection, but are otherwise of little value in treating a chalazion.