What is a chalazion?

Have you ever felt a painful little bump on your eyelid, noticed a feeling of dry eyes or had redness? If you recognize these signs and symptoms you may have a chalazion. What is a chalazion? The chalazion is a little known eye inflammation, but which affects more and more people. This is a small, benign, non-infectious lump that settles inside your eyelid. It can occur on the upper or lower eyelid. This cyst varies in size and can cause discomfort as well as tenderness.

How does a chalazion form?

The first cause of chalazion is inflammation of a meibomian gland. Located in the cartilage of the eyelids, these glands play an important role in the production of an oily substance called meibum. This substance forms a protective layer that prevents direct contact between air and the wall of the eye, preventing tears from evaporating. Tears are essential for healthy eyes, they nourish, clean, protect and moisturize them.

However, when this sebum thickens, it no longer drains properly and accumulates near the eyelids, clogging the Meibomian gland. This is how the chalazion is formed. This irritation is the perfect gateway for tiny parasites that can cause more inflammation.

But generally, the chalazion develops slowly. It may heal on its own within a few days, or it may take weeks or months to heal entirely.

Is the chalazion a stye?

You should know that there is a difference between styes and chalazions. A stye is an infection that forms at the base of the eyelashes and pus collects there while a chalazion is a non-infectious inflammation.

What causes a chalazion?

According to experts, the appearance of chalazion is explained by a variety of factors that contribute to inflammation of the glands. Some people may have primary gland dysfunction causing this irritation on a recurring basis. For others, the onset of chalazion may be due to their environment, allergies or air pollution.

It has also been proven that people who regularly use a computer may be more at risk. Looking at a screen reduces the frequency of blinking of the eyelids, which promotes dry eyes.

Couperose, or rosacea, is also on the list of risk factors. This chronic skin disease can cause ocular rosacea. We then find the same symptoms, such as clogged glands, inflammation of the eyes and eyelids as well as dry eyes.

Added to these risk factors is a new element: the wearing of a surgical mask. Wearing a face covering for a long time will accumulate heat and moisture, promoting the growth of bacteria. Thus, if a person suffers from a chronic inflammatory disease or rosacea, wearing a mask can cause the appearance of chalazion.

What are the signs to look out for?

It's especially important to be careful if you notice any swelling, redness, or tenderness. Good eyelid hygiene is necessary to relieve symptoms and prevent further irritation.

What to do if you notice a chalazion?

Of course, the treatment depends on the stage of development of the chalazion. Since most of them go away on their own, you have to rely on good eyelid hygiene.

The chalazion is the result of a clogged gland, so applying a warm compress is the first thing to do. A gentle massage several times a day also drains the sebum from the glands. Cleaning the eyelids with sterile cotton pads or a solution suitable for sensitive eyes is also recommended.

Today, there are clinical treatments to end this condition. Interventions within 4-6 weeks of symptom onset are known to be most effective. Therefore, if the condition of the chalazion does not improve within a few days, it is advisable to consult an optometrist. LLLT (Low Level Light Therapy) technology is the most effective treatment for chalazion. If these are repeated, the LLLT technique can be combined with other treatments such as Blephex (peeling), IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and Lipiflow. The optometrist will analyze the situation and propose solutions adapted to the patient's needs.

Advice from your optometrist

If the presence of a chalazion is detected, it should not be pressed or punctured. Hands should be washed thoroughly before and after cleaning or massaging the eyelids.

To avoid the risk of recurrence, optometrists recommend regular eyelid hygiene. Regular washing of pillowcases can also help reduce the presence of bacteria.

You should also refrain from wearing makeup or contact lenses until the chalazion has healed.

Make an appointment with an optometrist for an assessment of your condition!

October 26, 2022 — Lucie Laurin