Chalazion (meibomian cyst)

A chalazion is a blocked up, inflamed meibomian gland. It is often referred to as a meibomian cyst or ‘stye’, as these are very similar lumps which occur on the eyelid. A chalazion is a blocked up, inflamed meibomian gland. Your meibomian glands are located in your eyelids. They produce an oily secretion which slows the evaporation of your tear film. They have tiny pin-point openings along the length of your eyelids, behind the line of your eyelashes. Sometimes a meibomian gland gets blocked up. It begins to swell and may become infected.

An infected gland resembles a boil-like swelling of the eyelid (see photograph below ). It is treated with antibiotics, usually an ointment, but sometimes as tablets. If it is about to burst, warm compresses can help the "pus" to come out.

Patients who have blepharitis are very susceptible to the development of chalazia.



Chalazion (meibomian cyst)

Sometimes your ophthalmologist will lance the boil, under a local anaesthetic injection. Very often the infection rapidly disappears, but it leaves behind an unsightly lump. If this is big enough, it can easily be removed, again after the administration of a local anaesthetic injection.

A stye is an infection of an eyelash follicle. It resembles a yellow-headed spot. Antibiotic ointment is usually sufficient to get rid of a stye and prevents it spreading to other eyelashes. In most cases there is no special cause, and the chalazion or stye is a one-off. Diabetes, however, should be excluded as a possible cause and this is easily done by testing a blood or urine sample. If the problem is recurrent blepharitis should be suspected. This can be caused by certain skin complaints, such as rosacea, dermatitis and dandruff.

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