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Eyelid cyst (chalazion)

This is one of the commonest benign lumps in the upper or lower eyelids. A chalazion occurs when a meibomian gland opening blocks, resulting in an inflammation and occasionally infection in the meibomian gland - hence the other name for a chalazion is a meibomian gland cyst. The function of the meibomian glands is to secrete an oily film onto the tears to reduce evaporation, and the gland orifices sit on the eyelid margin just behind the root of the eyelashes. The problem often starts with a visible "white head" on the eyelid margin ie plugged meibomian gland opening, before a tender swelling develops.

Chalazion right lower lid

Chalazion right lower lid

Treatment of a chalazion

Initial treatment should be hot compresses to the affected eyelid and topical antibiotic ointment. Often the swelling and tenderness improve but a firm "pea-sized" lump remains. This requires surgical removal under local anaesthetic as an out-patient. The lump is often easily excised from the inside conjunctival surface of the eyelid.