A chalazion is a small, usually painless, lump or swelling that appears on your eyelid. A blocked meibomian or oil gland causes this condition, which is sometimes known as a meibomian cyst.

A chalazion can develop on the upper or lower eyelid. It may disappear without treatment. “Chalazia” is the term for more than one chalazion.

See an eye doctor if you think you have a chalazion, especially if it blocks your vision or you’ve had chalazia in the past.

A chalazion is sometimes confused with an internal or external stye. An internal stye is an infection of a meibomian gland. An external stye is an infection in the area of the eyelash follicle and sweat gland.

Styes are usually painful, while chalazia usually aren’t. Chalazia may develop after styes.

A chalazion typically appears as a painless lump or swelling on your upper or lower eyelid. Chalazia may affect both upper and lower lids. They can occur in both eyes at the same time. Depending on the size and location of the chalazion, it may blur or block your vision.

Although not as common, if an infection is present, a chalazion may be:

  • red
  • swollen
  • painful

A chalazion is caused by a blockage in one of the tiny meibomian glands of the upper and lower eyelids. The oil these glands produce helps moisten the eyes.

Inflammation or viruses affecting the meibomian glands are the underlying causes of chalazia.

Chalazia are more common in people with:

Recurring or unusual chalazia may be symptoms of more serious conditions, but these are rare.

In most cases, a doctor can diagnose this condition by taking a close look at the lump on your eyelid.

The doctor will also ask about your symptoms to determine whether the lump is a chalazion, stye, or something else.

Some chalazia can go away without treatment. If your doctor does recommend treatment, options may include either home care or medical treatment.

Home care

First, don’t try to squeeze the chalazion. It’s best if you touch it as little as possible.

Instead, you can apply a warm compress to your eyelid four times per day for about 10 minutes at a time. This can reduce the swelling by softening the oils in the blocked gland.

Make sure you wash your hands before you touch the area.

Your doctor may tell you to gently massage the lump a few times per day or to scrub your eyelid. They may also prescribe eye drops or eyelid creams.

Medical treatment

If the chalazion doesn’t go away with home treatment, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection or a surgical procedure to have it removed. Both the injection and the surgery are effective treatments.

The choice of treatment depends on several factors, such as whether you’re at risk of side effects from anesthesia. Your doctor will explain the benefits and risks.

It’s not always possible to avoid getting a chalazion. This is especially true if you’re prone to this type of eye problem.

However, there are a few things you can do to try to prevent this condition:

  • Always wash your hands before touching your eyes.
  • Make sure that anything that comes in contact with your eyes, such as contact lenses and glasses, is clean.
  • If you have a condition that increases your chance of developing chalazia, follow your doctor’s instructions to help manage them.