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Warm eyelid compresses and chalazion

Sunday morning in Marylebone having coffee:
My neighbours at the adjoining table were ordering a half cup of warm water and several thick paper serviettes from the waiter…. I immediately thought “how nice, they are going to clean their hands before their brunch”. But no, the paper napkin was precisely folded and dipped in the warm water then held up to my neighbour’s right eye and held there. Until then I hadn’t noticed his eyes as I was savouring my delicious Sunday morning late coffee.
I took an immediate professional eye doctor interest and said: “oh dear, have you got something wrong with your eye?”. We got talking and he told me that the eye was stinging, the eyelid felt hot and tender with some slight foreign body sensation. I had a quick glance at the eyelid and saw that he had a small acute chalazion in a tender inflamed eyelid.
Instinctively he had found that warm compresses soothed the inflamed area. This was super. I reassured him that with simple measures the eyelid was likely to get better: eyelid heating, massage and cleaning, antibiotic ointment purchased over the counter.
We had a chat about what acute chalazion and meibomianitis was, what underlying blepharitis meant, how the chalazion would likely recover with the simple measures but then he should treat the underlying cause to prevent a chalazion forming again. We drew the eyelid on a café-delicatessen white paper bag since we only had smartphones and a pen but no paper.. and I explained where the meibum oil comes from and what happens when the oily duct gets blocked. A chalazion.
Hopefully, Tom went away with a smile, knowing he had already done the right thing, and knowing a few more points about it. If it doesn’t get better, then it is time to see an eye doctor.

  • Warm compresses +/- antibiotic ointment
  •  Omega 3 rich diet
  •  Regular daily eyelid cleaning long-term

More about Jane Olver

Ms Jane Olver is the founder of Clinica London and a Consultant Ophthalmologist and Oculoplastic Surgeon. Her special expertise is in oculoplastic and cosmetic eye surgery including eyelids and lacrimal surgery. She is specialised in endoscopic lacrimal surgery for watering eyes in adults and children. She has over 20 years’ experience in treating people with eye problems just like you, and has published extensively in scientific journals about Ophthalmology and Lacrimal Surgery and is the author of the books “Ophthalmology at a Glance” and “Colour Atlas of Lacrimal Surgery”. At Clinica London, she is responsible for the Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery part, as well as patients with eye, eyelid and tear duct problems, and acute eye problems.

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