Eye Cyst – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Eye cyst or medically termed as chalazion is a little lump on the lower or upper eyelids which is caused by the inflammation of the gland found in the lids. Consistency may be firm, soft or fluid-filled. Eye cyst is also known as  tarsal cyst, meibomian cyst and conjunctival granuloma.

What are eyelid glands?

The eyelid glands are called meibomian glands. It is also known as tarsal glands, palpebral glands or tarsoconjunctival glands. Each of our eyelids, both the upper and lower eyelids, may contain 30 to 40 eyelid glands. Each of these glands has tiny openings wherein they secrete their thick liquid secretion into the tear film of the eyes. It is composed of sebum, a mixture of mucus and oil. This liquid is responsible for keeping the eyes lubricated at all times.

What causes eye cysts?

The tiny openings of the glands may be clogged due to hardening of the secretions near the opening. As the glands keep on secreting sebum, the lids swell which then in turn inflame the eyelids. The swelling and the inflammation is known as the eye cyst or chalazion. This is common for individuals with dry skin.

If the clogged opening is infected with bacteria, then the gland may become infected. When this occurs, it is called hordeolum. Hordeolum looks like pimple and is tender to touch. Unlike eye cyst or chalazion, the gland is not infected at all. However, it may precede a hordoleum if not managed early.

What are the symptoms of eye cysts?

The eyelid has a lump and is painful, red and swollen.  

How is eye cyst treated?

Most eye cysts are treated using a warm compress directed to the affected eyelids. This is to promote circulation of blood to the inflamed area thus hasting its healing. In addition to that, most doctors would prescribe an antibiotic ointment or drops to prevent infection. This is applied immediately after the compresses. There are cases where surgery is needed. This happens when the eye cyst persists and is causing an unsightly swelling of the lids.