Eye Condition

A chalazion (kuh-LAY-zee-un) is an enlargement of an oil-producing gland (meibomian) in the eyelid. It forms when the gland opening becomes clogged with oil secretions. It is not caused by an infection from bacteria, and it is not cancerous.

A stye, or hordeolum (hor-dee-OH-lum), also appearing as a bump on the lid and often confused with a chalazion, is a red, sore lump near the edge of the eyelid caused by an infected eyelash follicle. Chalazia tend to develop farther from the edge of the eyelid than styes.


About 25 percent of chalazia have no symptoms and will disappear without any treatment. But sometimes, like a stye, a chalazion may result in redness, sudden and worsened swelling and tenderness of the affected area of the eyelid, with irritation and scratchiness in the eye.

Further symptoms include a red bump with a small pus spot in the center, foreign body sensation and sensitivity to light, crusting along the lid margin, and tearing. Compliments of Your Ophthalmologist

Who is at risk?

Anyone can develop a stye or chalazion, but if you have blepharitis, a condition affecting the eyelid margins, you may be more likely to get either one.

Other risk factors include previous chalazia or styes, skin conditions such as acne rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis, and other systemic medical conditions such as diabetes.


It is important not to squeeze or try to pop a chalazion or stye This may spread infection into the surrounding eyelid tissue.

One or more of the following methods can treat and relieve symptoms:

  • Warm compresses help to clear the clogged gland. Repeatedly, soak a clean towel in hot water and apply to the lid as often and for as long as possible until the chalazion is completely gone. As the clogged gland(s) and channel(s) opens, you may notice increased size and/or discharge from the eye. This should improve with continuous applied heat.
  • Antibiotic topical ointment or oral antibiotics may be prescribed to decrease the bacterial content of the eyelids or in cases of infection.
  • Steroid (cortisone) eye drops or injection may be used short-term to reduce inflammation.
  • Surgical drainage or excision under local anesthesia by an ophthalmologist in the office may be necessary if chalazion does not respond to treatment or vision is affected, or a residual stubborn remnant becomes physically and aesthetically bothersome.

Some people are prone to recurrences of chalazion and stye. Simple, daily hygienic measures will minimize such an occurence. In the event that a chalazion recurs in the same place, a biopsy may be suggested to rule out more serious underlying conditions.

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