My eyelid throws me another curveball

A couple of weeks ago I saw a new doctor about my chalazion, a hard, non-painful lump that returns over and over again in the same spot in my left upper eyelid. Not on the edge, like a stye, but in the upper portion of the lid. It’s basically a blocked tear duct, probably. I’ve had it excised a number of times and it has always come back in the same place. I’ve tried hot compresses and really burn-your-skin hot compresses and massage, with seemingly no positive effect. I’ve had it get infected twice; the infection spreads over the entire eyelid when that happens, and it’s really ghastly. The first time I got infected, by the time it cleared up (a couple days), the lump was gone too. The second infection, this last October, was much more resistant to the antibiotics. It lasted forever, and the chalazion was still there after.

So anyway, the lump was getting larger again, and I decided to try a new doctor, and see if they had any different approaches. He seemed like a reasonable guy and we decided to go for a somewhat more aggressive surgery on the lid than my previous incisions: rather than just draining it and scooping out what thicker bits remained inside the “capsule” (the scar-tissue lined tear duct, I think), he is going to cut out the capsule altogether. Great. That’s scheduled for later this month.

In the meantime, I’ve been superstitiously not messing with the lump. No massage, no compresses, leaving it all alone. Why? Because I’m deathly afraid it will become infected before the procedure. I’ve had no luck with massage and hot compresses before, so I’m trying the opposite.

I think the lump’s been growing relatively quickly over the last few weeks. Until last night. This morning I looked in the mirror and it seemed like it was almost gone. Just now I looked, and it was gone. I asked someone else to look at it too, to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. The lid is flat.

So, great? For the first time ever, it self-drained with no associated trauma like an infection. But I have $5 right here that says it will be back… I need to call the doctor and see what he thinks. Do I go through with the procedure? Is the procedure even a good idea when the lump isn’t present? No idea.

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26 Responses to My eyelid throws me another curveball

  1. lisa says:

    I wonder if that’s what I have. At first I thought it was a stye. My eye felt like there was something in it, it was grossly swollen and red and hurt. But now there’s a bump on the top of the lid. When I lift the lid I see the bump on the inside. I got antibiotics from my internist since my eye doc was away. I never considered a chalazion. I thought they didn’t hurt. This hurts and it’s affecting my vision. I can’t see, everythign is blurry. Yikes.

  2. Scott says:

    Yikes indeed :-( Just the bump is left now, the overall swelling is gone? That’s a good start, I think — when mine got infected, the eye doctor (my previous one) made me go through a round (or two) of antibiotics to get rid of the infection before he would excise it… well, realistically, when it was as swollen as it was, my lid couldn’t even be turned inside out to get at the problem.

    Maybe (just guessing) the same kind of thing can hurt or not hurt depending on whether it’s pushing against a nerve? I know it’s common for eyelid bumps to distort vision. I had double vision in just the one eye for quite a while last time. (I’d close the good eye and still have double vision in the one.)

    When you see your eye doctor, I bet it will get excised and you’ll be better shortly. Then you get to cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t come back. Good luck!

  3. lisa says:

    Thanks. I hope I can see eye doc today. I don’t do well with one eye. Do you know why this occurs?

  4. Scott says:

    I’ve heard it described as similar to acne, only in a different set of ducts. In my case I’ve chalked it up to being prone to dermatitis.

  5. Diana says:

    Scott:

    I am having a similar problem with reoccuring chalazions.
    I was wondering how the more aggressive surgery went for you and if it was successful?

    Thanks.
    Daian

  6. Scott says:

    Never had the surgery done, for one reason and another. Currently I’m on a six-month Doxycycline regimin… also hot-packing every morthing. So far so good; no bump yet.

  7. dan says:

    Many ophthalmologists suggest fish oil.
    It is anti-inflammatory and
    causes oil secretions to be more thin liquid
    instead of thick clogging liquid.
    See if if reduces recurrences.
    It will probably not decrease an exisiting chalazion.

  8. dan says:

    The fish oil is oral , NOT topical.

  9. steveshark says:

    Yeah, I get these, although the longest I went without any was after I’d had a very, very long course of industrial-strength antibiotics.
    According to the eye specialist who I saw the antibiotics don’t actually work by killing anything nasty but by altering the eye chemistry so that they don’t recur as readily.
    I’ve just had my first one for about 2 years and it came and went very much more quickly than the others I’ve had.
    I hate these things – they make me feel miserable and depressed and I’m so glad when they go.

  10. Scott says:

    I’m curious, steveshark — did your latest come and go on it’s own? Did previous ones? I have only had one go on it’s own, and that was after a nasty full-eyelid infection.

  11. steveshark says:

    The latest one came and went over a period of about 3 weeks.
    All I did was apply hot compresses regularly. It’s almost totally gone now, although at its peak it almost closed my eye right up.
    I also apply tea bags to the eyes – as hot as I can stand. I’m not sure if they’re any better than other compresses though.
    Now I’m waiting to see if I get another one having had this recent one. I’m thinking that perhaps the therapeutic effects of the mega course of antibiotics have worn off and this last one may be the precursor of a new series.
    They tend to not recur in the same place so I’m lucky in that scar tissue that could damage the cornea hasn’t built up. I’ve had them everywhere though – upper, lower lids, sometimes quite deep inside.
    BTW – nice to talk to someone who has experience of this condition. I know of no-one else who has it! :)

  12. steveshark says:

    One more thing, I must have had about 15 ‘attacks’ and only once did one turn infected and come to a point.
    I actually lanced that one myself…

  13. kate says:

    I have 4 chalazions..one is pretty big and i hate it=( it makes me so depressed.. I was just wondering if anybody tried to poke it with a needle… I wana try it since all my attamprs failed(compressors and so on)

  14. Scott says:

    I wouldn’t do that, Kate… it sounds dangerous. Risk of infection and scarring.

  15. steveshark says:

    Kate – I’ve lanced one myself with a sterile hypo needle. No ill-effects.
    It had quite a head on it, so it was very obvious. If it’s ‘blind’ I wouldn’t lance it.
    And yes, they are depressing.
    But 4 at once!
    I’ve had two at once – one incoming and one outgoing, but never 4.

  16. ab says:

    Did yours just start happening out of the blue one day? Because I’d never had any eye problems of any kind until last July, when I got a chalazion. I had it surgically removed at the insistence of my eye doctor in September. It seemed to do the trick but I got two more in December- same lid. So, we waited and treated it with the usual compresses, etc. Those didn’t work, so I got two steroid injections in January. It’s now been seven weeks and the lumps are all definitely gone but– my eyelid is not the same at all after all of this. It’s reddish and asymmetrical to the other one. It droops slightly. Talk about depressed!! Does anyone else have this issue? My eye doc has pronounced me “cured” and doesn’t seem to be at all concerned with my appearance, which I now hate.

    • Scott says:

      Sure, mine was out of the blue. Well, except that I’m prone to eczema and psoriasis and such.

      I’ve found that after surgery or infections my eyelid takes a really long time to get entirely back to normal — like two or three months — but it does get there eventually. I hope you have a similar experience. It’s a shame your doctor isn’t more concerned about your lid’s appearance.

  17. Ruby says:

    OMADAIZZ!! im so glad i found fellow sufferers. I’ve never had a chalazion before- only in like december/january time my eyelid started feeling a bit sore. I ignored it for a long time and then one day i kinda couldnt open my right eye. I’ve been to my GP who told me that it was better not to do surgery because it would keep recurring so i decided to wait it out. It’s now been around four months- it’s gone quite small but there’s still a little lump in my lower lid which i cant feel but my vanity seriously has problems with it being there. I dont do the hot compress thing regularly- I’ve got to start it now…
    Has anyone got any advice as to wether i should lance it/get it lanced or continue to wait it out?

  18. ab says:

    Thanks for telling me that, Scott. I couldn’t get anyone to tell me about how long it might take to look like the other lid again. I wound up calling my internist, who recommended a special eye plastic surgeon, whom I am seeing next week. I don’t know if he will say this is normal or if he will immediately advise surgery but I’ll weigh the options. It just seems incredible that it would take this long to regain its shape. It’s still not ok, although I think it has improved slightly…Ruby: If you can stand it, I would say to wait it out a little longer. Give yourself a time limit. And then, whatever you do, make sure you get the steroid injection and NOT the surgery. After the injection, make sure you wash your lids (both) every day with baby shampoo and do not wear eye make up until the thing is totally healed. (Which, as mentioned above, can also take months). I thought the chalazions were the worst thing until I wound up in recovery for these last 6 months.

  19. ab says:

    Update: Apparently, my lid’s appearance has been altered by the steroid shots. The plastic surgeon wants to wait 2 more months to see if it doesn’t heal up on its own. I still have a faint bruise but the eyelid itself is still not symmetrical to the other one. He says that may or may not fix itself. I am mainly concerned about the droopiness, which he says will fix itself. Anyway, the lid issue now is that sometimes injections, particularly steroid injections, can cause something called “fat atrophy” in the lid. He doesn’t know right now if that is the case with me but if it is, it’s permanent. I hated the surgery and the injections seemed pretty easy by comparison but now I am thinking that both procedures are medevial!

  20. ab says:

    Just a friendly warning: Unless your chalazion is substantial, leave it alone!!! The worst has come to pass– the injections I received in my eyelid to get rid of my chalazions has resulted in ptosis and asymmetry in the lid and it looks like it is permanent. My only option is actual corrective surgery now. I am livid with my original eye doctor, who never told me that this could happen.

  21. Ellie says:

    what if the chalazion is big, hard and red, but hasn’t quite yet come to a head (like a whitehead pimple)? can it be lanced (with a sterilized needle, of course), or would that make an infection more likely? my son is already taking the antibiotic that the optometrist prescribed, but she didn’t say what else to do.

    • Scott says:

      Well, I do know that whenever the doctors excised my chalazions (as opposed to the two occasions when they “self-excised” by popping or whatever) they always did it from the *underside* of the eyelid. Now, I suppose that might be to eliminate the chance of visible scarring rather than for any more serious reason, but I really don’t know. In any case, if it were me I wouldn’t try to lance it on my own, I’d leave it to the professionals.

    • steveshark says:

      I’ve lanced one of mine, but I wouldn’t do it for anyone else – especially one of my children! Leave it to the doctor or nurse! Besides, if there’s no visible head then how do you know you’re lancing in the right place?
      Just thought I’d say that I’ve been chalazion free for about 2 years now. I have no idea why, although I’m now thinking that stress has a part to play with them. I’m retired and feeling very laidback.
      Good luck!

  22. Strange. I run and I have had similar issues this year. I had surgery first to remove several lumps from one eye, they didn’t go. Today I’ve had a steroid injection in the biggest one, hopefully it will go.

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