Eyelid Disorders


Hordeola also referred to as a Stye, are similar to chalazia in that they are also swellings that appear on the eyelid, often related to the meibomian glands, which lubricate the eyes. Hordeola are different, however, in that they are infectious. Often they are cause by a staphylococcal infection. They appear spontaneously, much like chalazia, and are very common, though they occur most frequently in patients with blepharitis or rosacea.

Most hordeola will self-resolve within 1 to 2 weeks, draining and receding naturally. This can be expedited by good ocular hygiene, warm compresses, or gently massaging the eyelid. If you are highly susceptible to these infections, good ocular hygiene is a good preventative practice.

If the hordeola persist past 2 weeks or are particularly bothersome, antibiotics will be effective in treating them as well. A doctor may also be able to drain them surgically if it is deemed necessary.

Your doctor may use the term external or internal hordeola to describe your condition, which is just a diagnosis specific to where the hordeolum has appeared on the eyelid. Internal ones have infected the meibomian glands underneath the eyelid, whereas an external hordeolum is related to the outer part of the eyelid. The treatment of the two is the same, though your eye care professional will make different choices depending on where the infection is located and its severity.

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin. It is common and painless, though cosmetically unappealing to patients and also contagious. The lesions will appear as small, peal-like lumps on the skin. The virus is not limited to the eye area only, but can appear anywhere on the body. If a person has MC, it is likely to affect the eyelid. This can cause other conditions to arise, such as conjunctivitis or keratitis, and so it is important to be careful and practice good ocular hygiene, especially if you contract the virus.

The lesions are painless and will self-resolve, though each one may last 2 months, and the entire infection can last up 2 years. Although it will resolve on its own, treatment will help to keep the spread of more papules under control, as well as speed up the clearing of the existing ones. Most commonly treatment is a topical cream, one of a variety of possibilities that a patient can try until he or she finds one that works. There is also a new and effective laser treatment available, as well as surgery for certain situations. Your doctor will work with you to come up with an effective treatment plan.

Pigmented Nevus

A nevus is a freckle on the eye, meaning a spot on the iris that is a different color from what is around it. Usually they are harmless, just like skin freckles, and are something like a “birth mark” on your eye. There are times however when a nevus can become more than just a freckle, but be a sign of a more serious condition. If you have a pigmented nevus it is important to take note of it and be sure that it does not grow or change. If it is raised, growing, or extending out into the cornea, then it could be a conjunctival tumor. These tumors can be benign or malignant, and it is important to see an eye cancer specialist to get them biopsied to be sure. They will excise them either way, so that the tumor does not disrupt your vision. If the tumor is malignant, then further treatment will be necessary. If it is benign, you will still want to go in for check-ups and pay attention to any changes in your eyes and vision, to be sure another growth has not formed.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a type of slow-growing skin cancer, and it is caused by exposure to the sun’s UV rays without proper protection. It is not limited to the eye, but it could occur on the eyelid. It can have a varied appearance, from a slightly-raised, waxy growth to a red sore that bleeds or cracks. It will grow slowly, but if you notice a growth forming that is asymmetrical, irregularly shaped, varied in color, and becomes larger than a pencil eraser, then you should get checked for carcinoma. Treatment will always include excision of the tumors, and if it is caught early, then this may be the only treatment for a while, although continual skin exams will need to be maintained. If the cancer progresses beyond the skin then other action will be required. Skin cancer can be avoided by wearing hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, and appropriate use of sunscreen.


A chalazion is a small, painless, benign bump that forms under the eyelid. They can form from non-infectious styes or from a blocked gland. The eye has about 100 glands, which excrete a fatty fluid, providing continual lubrication. If one of those glands is blocked, this fluid flows into the blockage and becomes a chalazion. These bumps are quite common and are harmless, and generally will drain and disappear on their own given time. Some people seem to be more susceptible to getting them, especially people who suffer from rosacea. If you experience frequent chalazions, or chalazions that are not self-resolving, then there are treatments that are highly effective. Please seek advise from an optometrist to determine the best approach. Sometimes doctors prescribe antibiotics, and they also can teach methods of cleaning under the eyelid to prevent further blockages.

For any chalazion, a warm compress will help to clear up the blockage and reduce the size of the bump. It is important to remember that you should not self-diagnose but if it is a chalazion then they are not dangerous, painful, or indicative of any other more serious condition.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is one of the most common types of skin cancer. It often appears and recurs on the face, meaning that the nose, ears, lips, and eyelids are high risk. It will appear in various forms depending on the progression of the disease, but often it presents with growths that will appear like moles or lumps, as well as dry and scaly red skin that can resemble eczema.

Skin cancer is caused by chronic sun exposure, and although it is treatable when caught early, it is even easier to prevent with simple measures of sun protection like hats and sunscreen. The difficult with skin cancer, especially this type, is that when it reaches a certain stage, it requires constant vigilence and surgical removal of lumps and tumors as they grow. This type of disease will have a negative impact on your lifestyle and freedoms, and is a taxing diagnosis to receive.

Sebaceous Gland Carcinoma

Sebaceous gland carcinoma is a very uncommon type of skin cancer. It is rare, but important that it be diagnosed correctly and as early as possible, so getting information is an important part of protecting yourself.

There is little known about how most cancers originate, but sebaceous gland carcinoma can either appear in connection with another type of cancer, or as the result of numerous and repeated exposures to radiation or (less commonly) X-ray therapy.

The sebaceous glands are in the skin, all over the body, and they produce the natural oils that coat the skin. About 3 of every 4 diagnoses of sebaceous gland carcinoma are in the eyelid, so although this cancer can occur in any part of the body, it is especially important to pay attention to the eyes. The cancer will first appear as painless hard nodules on or under the eyelid. Many other conditions can cause this symptom, and most often lumps like these will be a benign case of some other eyelid condition that will self-resolve. Getting examined by an opthalmologist, dermatologist, or specialist will help to ensure that sebaceous gland carcinoma is not misdiagnosed.

Malignant Melanoma

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It begins in the skin cells called melanocytes, which give the skin its color. Overexposure to the sun will damage the melanocytes, and cause malformations to begin. Most often, melanoma appears as a change or growth connected with a preexisting mole; irregularity in shape, size or color of a mole can be a sign of early melanoma. The growths may also originate on their own, and so new moles or lumps are also possible signs.

Melanoma is caused by damage to the skin cells due to chronic sun exposure and the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays. People who spend a lot of time outside, go to tanning beds, and do not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves are at risk. People who already have many freckles or moles, are fair-skinned, have a history of melanoma in the family, or have experience severe sunburns also have a higher chance of developing this cancer. This does not mean, however, that people who do not fit into any of these categories are not also at risk. This disease can affect anybody, and so being vigilant as well as reporting problems or changes to your doctor is a crucial part of your health plan.

Melanoma connected with the eyes will appear on the eyelid. Often the eyes are very vulnerable anyways to the sun’s radiation, and wearing sunglasses is a very important part of cancer prevention. Melanoma near the eye is dangerous and can have implications for overall ocular health and vision, and so getting an exam if you are concerned about possible melanoma is important.

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