Chalazia & Styes

A chalazion forms when glands in the eyelid become blocked and the secretions accumulate into a swelling on the affected eyelid. It can become infected from a variety of causes, such as viruses or bacteria. Pus collects within the swelling, and may need medical attention. Where medical intervention is necessary, the process typically involves the creation of a small incision is made so as to drain the liquid within.

What are chalazia and styes?

A chalazion (plural: chalazia) is a small lump that develops on or within the eyelid. It usually does not present any pain and does not last longer than a few weeks.

Meibomian glands are in charge of the production of oil that lubricate the eye’s surface. Chalazia can form when meibomian glands at the edge of an eyelid develop a blockage. This can be due to an inflammation of the eyelid caused by infection, or a collection of debris from dirt, oil and dead skin, or eye makeup.

Most people confuse a chalazion with a stye since they appear similar to most. A stye – like a chalazion, is also a small lump that can develop in the eye area. Though the two terms are often used interchangeably, they actually are different conditions and lesions altogether.

A chalazion is the result of a blocked oil gland, thus resulting in a lump where the produced oil has nowhere to go, thus resulting in swelling. A stye, however, is an oil gland or hair follicle that has come under infection, commonly at the edge of the eyelid. It is possible, however, fr a chalazion to develop into a stye when it gets infected.

Styes come in 2 forms:

  • External hordeolum: This refers to styes that develop at the root of the eyelash situated at the edge of the eyelid. The stye is formed when infection happens at the follicle of the eyelash
  • Internal hordeolum: This type of styes form inside the eyelid. Usually results from an oil gland infection.

The easiest way to tell a chalazion and a stye apart is that a chalazion does not usually come accompanied with pain. Styes, however, are painful. Styes may also cause the eye to feel ‘scratchy’ or sore.

Symptoms of Styes

Stye symptoms listed:

  • eyelid swelling
  • a pimple-like lesion containing pus
  • an increased production of eyelid crust
  • increased light sensitivity
  • increased tear production in affected eye

A patient may experience some, or all of the above symptoms as the stye develops. The growth phase of the stye usually lasts for approximately 3 days, before the body starts to drain out the collected pus, leading to a gradual alleviation of experienced symptoms. The stye is usually resolved in a week after.

Symptoms of Chalazia

In the initial stages, a chalazion can be observed as a small, inflamed area of the eyelid. Redness on the inflamed may be experienced. This inflamed area may grow slowly over time and develop into a painless lump.

It is more common chalazion to affect the upper eyelid, but may also grow on the lower eyelid.

Chalazia are mostly painless, but they may cause irritate the affected eye, leading to increased tear production and watery eyes. Chalazions that grow uncommonly large may exert pressure on the eye underneath, and this may lead to a decrease in visual acuity.

When to see a doctor

A person medical help or professional expertise if the chalazion persists after a month. In Singapore, ophthalmologists or eye specialists can provide the services required to diagnose the cause and check for potential complications from other underlying conditions.

The healthcare professional you approach should investigate your symptoms with detailed questions on the formation of the chalazion and closely inspect the affected area to ensure no other underlying conditions are the cause. Anti-inflammatory eye drops or ointments may be given to the patient for discomfort and to assist the healing process.

In certain cases where there are sizable, or several chalazia present, or if the chalazia grow in a location where it may affect eye health or visual ability, steroid injections may be administered for a reduction in swelling of the area.

In the case of a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics may be prescribed for the patient.

Importance of early treatment

It is important to treat chalazion early as chronic chalazion are more difficult to treat and may lead to eyelid scarring.

WhatsApp chat