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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Chalazion (meibomian cyst)


A chalazion is a lump on one of your eyelids. It forms when a tiny oil gland on the inside of your eyelid (also called a meibomian gland) gets blocked and swollen. Oil builds up inside the gland and forms a lump. Eventually the gland may break open and release the oil into the surrounding tissue. This can cause redness and swelling of your eyelid.

A chalazion is different from a stye, which is caused by bacterial infection of the gland at the base of an eyelash. Styes are usually smaller, more painful and closer to the surface of the eyelid than chalazia (the plural of chalazion).

You're more likely to get one if you:

Symptoms of a chalazion

At first, a chalazion is a red, tender and swollen area but in a few days, it changes to a painless, slow-growing lump. The lump starts very small but can grow to the size of a pea. Your eye may water more, and a large chalazion that presses against your eye can cause blurred vision and discomfort.

Treating a chalazion

Often a chalazion will go away after about a month, without any treatment.

Preventing chalazia

Gently cleaning the eyelash edge of your eyelids each night can help prevent getting a chalazion. Use eye cleansing pads or diluted baby shampoo. You can also put a warm compress on your eyelids for a few minutes each night before bed. Remember to keep your hands clean.

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Written by Canterbury optometrists. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed March 2023.


Page reference: 141203

Review key: HICAS-141203