Private Eye Care in London
by Consultant Laura Crawley

Chalazion description and symptoms

What is Chalazion?

A Chalazion is a common condition affecting the eyelids. Along the edge of both, the upper and lower eyelids sit a row of oil glands. These glands, also known as the meibomian glands, produce oil, which is a vital part of your tears. Tears are a mixture of oil and water. The watery part comes from a gland under the brow bone called the lacrimal gland.

The opening of the oil duct can become inflamed and then blocked. This causes swelling of the duct and the eyelid. You can see a lump and feel it where this has occurred. The name of this condition is chalazion or meibomian cyst. In some cases, the chalazion can become infected.

In adults, it is rare for the chalazion to cause acute infection. The chalazion can vary in size and tenderness. Treatment involves hot compresses and massage to the affected lid. Use a face flannel and warm tap water to apply heat to chalazion. This will soften the oil and dilate the blocked opening to the gland. Apply this for 60-90 seconds. Then, massage the lump to encourage the gland to discharge. You may see a greyish discharge when you do this.

In some cases, the acute phase settles and you have a smaller hard lump. In such cases, your specialist can carry out a minor operation called incision and curettage under local anaesthetic. This will remove the residual swelling. Click here for images of a chalazion.

If your eyeball becomes red and painful, you should contact Ms Crawley for a review.

Also, you can go to the emergency eye clinic at The Western Eye Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in Marylebone Road London.

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What Patients Say About Laura Crawley

I had the best experience working with Dr Crawley. I felt looked after and she took the time to get to know me. I would highly recommend her.

Sven K. | Brighton

From the moment I met her to the moment I left, I was treated with great courtesy and kindness, and everything was explained to me in layman’s terms so I could fully understand my condition. I was immensely impressed.

Paul | London

“Thank you very much for seeing me yesterday, you were marvellous and a pride to the NHS”

Mariah P. | London

Dear Laura,
Just a quick note to say thanks for looking after my mum Mrs M. so wonderfully. It was so good of you to take so much time and care as she was very worried about my appointment and you really made such a difference to my experience. Thank you.

Ruth S. | Oxford

Dear Angela and Laura,
Thank you very much for seeing me yesterday. You were both marvellous and a pride to the NHS. You could, if you two wish, send this to your line manager. Thank you again!

Rebecca K. | Brighton

Dear Laura,
Enjoy your holiday and thanks for everything so far.
Best Wishes

Janet A. | London

Causes of Chalazion

Chalazia form when the opening to the meibomian gland becomes blocked. This occurs more often in people with blepharitis, rosacea and in people who have eczema.

Diagnosis and Examination of Chalazion

Ms.Crawley will examine your eyes on the slit lamp to assess the size and position of the chalazion and to look for conditions associated with it such as blepharitis and rosacea. In some cases it is possible to massage the chalazion to encourage flow from the blocked oil gland, decompressing it. 

Chalazion Treatment

Hot compresses are used to soften the trapped oil and dilate the opening to the gland. This can be done with a flannel and warm tap water, a clean, warmed teaspoon or a warming eye mask. Heat should be applied for 1-3 minutes. Massaging the lump will then encourage the cyst to discharge.

If there is spreading infection in the surrounding skin, a course of oral antibiotics may be required.

If the chalazion does not settle down with heat and massage then, a procedure called “incision and curettage” is recommended.

A local anaesthetic is injected into the lid around the lump. The anaesthetic stings rather like a dental injection but it numbs the area completely. A special clamp is used to enclose the chalazion allowing incision of the lump from the inside of the lid. The contents of the chalazion are then removed or curetted. The clamp is removed, and the eye is covered with a padded dressing that should stay on for 4-6 hours. No sutures are used. The incision will heal over the next 2-3 days. An antibiotic cream or ointment is also prescribed after the procedure, and Ms Crawley will prescribe an own regime for you.

Chalazion Questions

Chalazia can recur, and it is important to do good heat and lid massage if you are prone to them. (Details of heat and massage can be found in the blepharitis section) Keeping the meibomian glands flowing freely is key to reducing recurrence.

This is a good sign. The cyst is decompressing itself, and this should be encouraged. Chalazia can discharge through the normal oil gland opening but is some cases they burst through the skin. If they decompress through the skin, then apply gentle pressure to explain as much of the discharge as possible and keep the skin clean and dry after that. The skin opening will heal. In such cases, oral antibiotics may be required, but Ms.Crawley will advise you on that when she examines your eyes.

Hello, I’m Eye Consultant Laura Crawley

I’m a consultant ophthalmic surgeon with specialist interest in glaucoma, cataract surgery and common red eye conditions such as blepharitis and conjuctivitis.

My patients are people who want to be highly informed, understand all of their options and work together with me to ensure the best possible eye care outcomes.

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What Patients say

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For additional information download the Chalazion Leaflet

The best way to figure out your eye treatment options is to give us a call on: 020 7935 7990,
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