A chalazion (also known as a meibomian cyst) is a cyst in the eyelid. A common condition, it often occurs dueto inflammation around the opening of the oil glands at the base of the eyelashes. The inflammation (called Blepharitis) is caused by sensitivity to a common bacteria found on the skin. When the opening of the small oil glands around the lashes becomes blocked by inflammation, a small tender swelling occurs in the eyelid. This is known as a Chalazion.


The first stage of treatment involves using a warm compress and massaging your eyelid:

  • Warm compress: Boil some water and let it cool a little or use water from the hot tap. Soak cotton wool or a clean flannel in the warm (but not boiling) water, squeeze it out and gently press onto your closed eyelids for two to three minutes at a time.
  • Massage: Starting at the skin crease, gently massage the upper lid downwards to the lashes. The lower lid should be massaged upwards towards the lashes. This may release the contents of the cyst, which means further treatment will not be necessary.
  • Antibiotics may also be prescribed to reduce the inflammation.

If the Chalazion does not respond to the first stage of the treatment, it can be drained. Your name will be placed on the minor operation list and you will be given a date to come in for this procedure. Your appointment letter will tell you where to check in on the day of surgery.

You will be admitted by the day surgery nurse. The operating nurse or doctor will examine you and discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery and the type of anaesthetic that can be given. They will also ask you to sign a consent form to confirm that you are aware of the risks and benefits and agree to go ahead with the operation.

Benefits of surgery

The inflamed Chalazion will be drained.

Risks involved

  • Your eyelid might be swollen and bruised for several days after your operation but this should settle after two weeks.
  • There is a risk of infection, but after the operation you will be given antibiotic ointment to apply, which should help prevent this.
  • A Chalazion can come back after being removed. If this happens, please apply a warm compress to your closed eyelid. Please contact us through your GP if your Chalazion persists despite this, as further treatment and investigation may be required.

The procedure

Your surgery will be performed by a nurse practitioner or doctor, who will explain the procedure again before they start operating.

Once you are lying comfortably on the operating table, the skin around the Chalazion will be injected with local anaesthetic. This will sting at first but the lid will soon become numb.

Although you will still be able to feel touch and pressure you should not feel any pain.

The nurse or doctor will then make a small incision on the inner surface of your eyelid so that the contents of the cyst can be drained. Ointment will be applied and a pad placed over your eye. You will be able to go home on the same day. Sometimes we will need to take a biopsy of the cyst. If this is done, a nurse will telephone you with the results or you will be sent a clinic appointment if needed.

Aftercare and advice

When the anaesthetic wears off, there may be some discomfort. To relieve this, you can take mild pain relief such as paracetamol. You should keep the pad over the eye for at least four hours as this reduces swelling and bruising.

When you remove the pad, you will find some blood or discharge around your eye. Clean the eyelid with cooled boiled water and remember to use the antibiotic ointment as prescribed.

As this is a minor procedure which only involves surgery on the eyelid and not the eye, it should not affect your ability to work. If it does, please see your GP to discuss taking time off work.

When to seek advice

If your sight becomes blurred or you experience bleeding, you should call Moorfields Direct for advice, or go to your local A&E department.

You can also go to Moorfields A&E department in City Road (open 24/7 for emergency eye problems only) for a further examination.

Moorfields Direct

Our helpline is staffed by knowledgeable ophthalmic nurses from:

  • 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday.
  • 9am to 5pm on Saturdays. 


Call 0207 566 2345

Review date: June 2026