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What are Chalazia?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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Chalazia are cysts that form in the eyelids. They are formed as a result of tiny tear glands in the lids being blocked by oil secretions that harden. Chalazia are uncomfortable, but tend to resolve without treatment after about a month. Rarely, chalazia may indicate skin cancer. Evaluation of chalazia, or a single chalazion, is recommended to rule out this possibility.

Chalazia are often confused with styes or sties, which are eyelash hair follicles which have become infected with bacteria. When people are affected by chalazia, they may note significant swelling in the eyelid. Usually, only one chalazion forms. The eye may tear up quite readily, and those affected may notice an increased sensitivity to light, called photosensitivity. Touching the eyelid usually results in pain, as it is extremely tender and sensitive. One may also feel a hard bump as the cyst forms.

Chalazia are often mistaken for other types of eye infections like pinkeye. Generally, examination by a doctor will result in the appropriate diagnosis of chalazia. No special testing is required. The physician merely needs to examine the eyelid to determine presence of chalazia.

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Treatment of chalazia is also fairly simple. Patients are asked to place warm compresses on their eyes for about 15 minutes, three or more times a day. Compression can help clear the blockage. Unlike conditions like pinkeye, chalazia do not usually need to be treated with antibiotic ointment, since they are not of infectious origin. A chalazion is also not likely to spread to the other eye.

Complications of chalazia may occur if the cyst does not resolve within a month, or when people repeatedly get a chalazion in the same location. A chalazion that keeps recurring may be skin cancer, and should be biopsied to rule out cancer. Chalazia that fail to go away may require surgical removal if they do not respond to treatment.

Occasionally chalazia can form large cysts that temporarily affect sight, causing astigmatism. Astigmatism resolves when the chalazion clears, but it can present problems to those who are not otherwise sight impaired. Doctors may recommend not driving until sight returns to normal.

Chalazia tend to respond well to treatment and do not recur. Though initial pain can be quite uncomfortable, several days of treatment begin to resolve pain. One should not stop treatment, however, without advice from a doctor.

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anon162517
Post 5

I have an astigmatism and I think I'm getting a chalazion. My vision is blurry with or without my glasses and hurts with my contacts. Just go to the eye doc and hope for the best?

anon98372
Post 4

Don't rely on just one doctor. They say not to worry because they don't have what you have.

anon43096
Post 3

Hello. I was wondering if anyone can help me. i have recurrent chalazia. i have been to more than four different doctors. they have opened it surgically and removed the cyst, but usually within two weeks it comes back. I have had more than five surgeries on my eyes, and my latest doctor has tried injections of corticosteroid, about four times. after all these trials the chalazia comes back. i really don't know what else to do. I used to live in Regina, SK in Canada, but for the past four years i have been living in my home country of Libya, and my doctors keep telling me it's because of the weather but i really don't know what else

to do. About doing a biopsy on it, my doctor says i don't need to. he keeps telling me to leave it and wait on it, but the thing is that is *big* and honestly it's making my eyes look bad, and besides i have been suffering from these recurrent chalazia since i have moved here.

anyway i hope you guys can help me. i really need advice on what to do, thank you

hippo
Post 2

thank you, clearer than my own MD.

anon18585
Post 1

Excellent, at last a clear explanation that is very easy to understand. Thank you.

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