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A chalazion (also known as meibomian cyst)is a common condition. It is an inflamed swelling in the eyelid caused by a blocked oily duct.

The meibomian glands are in the tarsal plates of the eyelids and contain over 25 tiny oily secreting ducts per eyelid which open onto the eyelid margin and secrete oil into the tear film, which helps stop tears evaporate. If just one duct gets blocked, oil accumulates and the body reacts by sending in inflammatory cells which cause a red painful inflamed lump.

Natural history

A chalazion may eventually settle with antibiotic ointment applied regularly onto the eyelid margin for two weeks and hot compresses used if very inflamed. This may leave a quiet noticeable lump which needs surgery.

This picture shows an inflamed chalazion lower lid and blepharitis (crusting and redness at the lashes). There is also an infected lash follicle (small stye). Picture of a quiet chalazion in the upper lid. Other cysts can occur around the eyelids such as watery cysts of Moll which are accumulations of sweat fluid in a skin cyst. Cysts of Moll are removed via small skin incisions under local anaesthesia.

Surgery - incision and curettage (I+C)

If the chalazion doesn't settle, it may require surgery to drain the contents. This simple surgery is done under local anaesthesia. First the skin is cleaned then a drop of local anaesthetic inserted on the surface of the eye.

View the Chalazion FAQ


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