A chalazion is a common but very frustrating eyelid problem. It can cause a bump on the eyelid and this bump can take weeks or even months to go away.
What Is A Chalazion
A chalazion is an inflammatory condition of the eyelid. It can happen on either the upper or lower eyelid. It is a result of a clogged meibomian gland. Meibomian glands are sebaceous glands in the eyelids. Their main function is to produce the fatty layer of a person’s normal tear film. In the upper eyelid, there are approximately 25 to 40 glands and in the lower eyelid, there are about 20 to 30 meibomian glands. When these glands become clogged, a chalazion can happen. This is important to understand because chalazion treatment involves keeping the meibomian glands unclogged. Here are the 5 best practices on how to treat a chalazion.
(1) Prevention is important. If you have had a chalazion in the past, it’s likely that you will have one in the future. So, preventing them is the best way to treat your problem. This means keeping the meibomian glands open so that they do not become clogged. Heat helps to keep the meibomian glands open. Ideally, this should be moist heat, but even dry heat can be helpful. When you are in the shower, you can use warm soapy water to clean and rinse the eyelids two times a day.
(2) Use warm compresses and soapy lid scrubs. Once you already have a chalazion, you will want to do more heat. Warm compresses 2 times a day is likely not enough to treat a chalazion once it has formed. Warm compresses help the inflammatory tissue to break up and allows the clogged fluid to be released from the glands. Using a soapy scrub after the warm compress is important also. This clears away the clogged fluid that has been released from the clogged glands. Use a warm compress at least 6 times day for 10 minutes each time for the treatment of chalazion.
(3) Your ophthalmologist may consider prescribing prescription medications, such as a steroid eye drop, or an oral medication called doxycycline. Steroid eye drops can help to reduce the inflammation in a chalazion. However, they should not be used as primary treatment. Most doctors will always recommend that steroids are used alongside warm compresses. If your eye doctor prescribes a steroid eye drop, you will likely have to go back in a few weeks to have your eye pressure checked. Steroid eye drops in some cases can cause a rise in eye pressure. Do not use a steroid eye drop unless you are under the care of an ophthalmologist who can monitor for any side effects. Doxycycline is an oral medication that can help thin out the secretions of the meibomian glands. This may be helpful in expressing the glands. Doxycycline should be used under the direction of your physician.
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(4) Some ophthalmologists are able to perform eyelid laser. This is called IPL or intense pulsed light therapy. It is a newer form of treatment that is gaining popularity with ophthalmologists. It is not invasive, painless and can be done in a matter of minutes. It is not covered by insurance and can cost anywhere from $150 to $400.
(5) If conservative chalazion treatment is not working, you may need to have chalazion surgery. This is usually done by an oculoplastics specialist. An oculoplastics specialist is an ophthalmologist who has had 4 years of residency training and then one or two years of specialty training in diseases of the eyelid.
Chalazion Treatment: Take Home Points
The best chalazion treatment is prevention. After that it is warm compresses and good lid hygiene. Some people may also benefit from prescription medications and intense pulsed light therapy. If nothing seems to be working, see an ophthalmologist for chalazion surgery.