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A chalazion, pronounced sha-LAY-zee-on, is a cyst-like bump in the upper or lower eyelid caused by inflammation due to a blocked meibomian gland. It may look a bit like a stye. While a stye involves a bacterial infection from a blocked oil gland, a chalazion has no infectious element and may take much longer to resolve.

Self Help & Tips

Who is at Risk?

  • Those who get sties where the infection resolves but the white blood cells and fatty cell secretions don't completely drain and instead form a hard bump;
  • suffer from rosacea with papules and pustules, especially around the eyes
  • suffer from blepharitis, or eyelid inflammation;
  • have a meibomian gland dysfunction;
  • have seborrhoeic dermatitis, a kind of eczema;
  • are pregnant
  • or have adult-onset diabetes.

The meibomian gland produces an oily secretion, called meibum which helps maintain the protective tear film on the surface of the cornea by slowing its evaporation. There are about 25 meibomian glands in the lower eyelid, and 50 in the upper eyelid.


  • A hard nodule or swelling in the eyelid, typically a little farther from the edge than a stye, or sometimes on the underneath of the eyelid
  • Red, swollen eyelid
  • The skin outside of the chalazion usually isn't tender and can be moved around easily without pain.
  • Blurry vision which could result if the swelling due to a chalazion on the upper lid is enough to press on the cornea.

Complementary Treatment

In most cases chalazia will resolve naturally in several weeks, but there are few things you can do:

  • Diseases of the eyelid are often the result of a relationship between poor digestion and diet. In Chinese medicine problems of the upper eyelid often correspond to the spleen meridian and lower lid problems correspond to the stomach meridian. These imbalances can be prevented and improved by following diet and nutrition recommendations, including eliminating fried foods, eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and using nutritional supplements. Acupuncture treatments may help as well.
  • EyeEase is a soothing herbal formula for internal use and/or as part of a compress when irritation is present in the eyes. These are not eye drops, but herbs which have their primarily help to:
    • Help the body to clear excess heat, congestion and inflammation from the eye area
    • Combat bacterial and viral infections
    • Clear the lymph and liver
    • Stimulate and support the immune system
  • Compress: Apply a warm, wet washcloth to the affected area and hold it in place until it cools, as you would when treating a stye. EyeEase can be used in the compress by adding one dropper to eight ounces of boiled water. The water should cool before using so the alcohol has a chance to evaporate, then dip the washcloth, squeeze out excess, and apply. Recommended application time is 5 minutes, 2-3 times per day for 1-2 weeks.
  • Good eye hygiene is indicated, so use a baby shampoo on a cotton swab to wash the eye lids.
  • Avoid rubbing the eyes.
  • Never squeeze or try to pop the lump, as this will cause inflammation, infection or damage to the delicate tissues of the eyelid.

Beyond Self Help

Even though a lump in the eyelid is unappealing cosmetically, it is benign and will often resolve with the simple self-care instructions above. Please see your eye doctor if it does not resolve or becomes infected, if it is large enough to press on the cornea or if it becomes a persistent problem.

  • Your doctor may prescribe a topical or oral antibiotic. Unless there is an infection present, this will not be effective.
  • An eye doctor may drain the contents of the lump by making a small incision on the inside of the eyelid.
  • The lesion can be injected with a corticosteroid to help drain it.
  • If chalazia recur in the same location, the doctor may take a sample to test for tumorous growth.

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