What is a chalazion and how can you treat it?
A chalazion is an extremely common eyelid lump. It happens mainly in young people, aged about 20 to 40. Children can get them, older people can get them. It is a blockage of the meibomian gland, and each eyelid has about thirty meibomian glands. It happens when the opening gets blocked and the oil accumulates and then the body can not get rid of the oil. It sends in little cells that are trying to eat the oil and they get very, very fat and they make a lump in the eyelid.
Usually, it is a fairly painless lump, it is not a tumour, it is not a malignant tumour, but it is annoying and it can interfere with the vision, it can sometimes be inflamed as well. Most people will treat it, to begin with – what we call – conservatively. So they will use hot spoon bathing, they will put on some ointment. If it is very inflamed, they might even have some antibiotic tablets, but very rarely. If it is not gone by about two weeks, then they come and see me. And as an oculoplastic surgeon, I am trained to deal with eyelid lumps and I’ll examine them, make sure that it is a Chalazion, and then advise them if it is ready to be incised.
So Chalazion treatment consists of an incision and curettage, done from underneath the eyelid, where it is completely hidden. The eyelid is anaesthetised with a small amount of local anaesthetic, a little bit of infiltrative anaesthesia and some eye drops. And it is done in a minor surgery theatre here in Clinica London. All patients find it very tolerable, the actual surgery probably takes about 10 to 15 minutes and then at the end, when it’s drained fully, we put on an eye pad and some ointment, keep the eye pad on overnight and then they take the eye pad off the morning after and start to put in the chloramphenicol ointment four times a day for a week.
Now it is not necessary for me to see them again afterwards. Usually, about 80 to 90 percent of the Chalazia go away permanently in that location where it has been drained. But it can be very helpful for them to come back for me to check that it is healed. And also, so that we can discuss the underlying cause namely why did they get the blockages at the meibomian gland in the first place. So we often have a follow-up appointment, where we discuss the management of blepharitis and the meibomian gland dysfunction.
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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