Monday, July 30, 2012

In the Blink of an Eye- Chalazia Management

UGH! Constructing the first real sentence of this post and I'm already anxious. Rehashing the time period when our eldest daughter endured a battle against chalazia is still uncomfortable for me, almost three years later. Needless to say, this particular story does not detail fond memories or frame-worthy photographs, but there is a happy ending. 

We know there are other families and individuals out there who are making every effort to fend off chalazia, so as much as I shudder with the recollection of our own fight, this one is for you. 

About 4 months after our daughter's first birthday, I started to notice redness developing in the corner of her left eye. Initially, it didn't seem serious. I figured she'd just gotten glitter (Somehow, with girls, there is glitter EVERYWHERE!) in her eye or accidentally poked herself with one of her toys. But the redness didn't diminish over the next few days. Mommy-Radar sounded its alarm as that eye seemed to be getting worse. 

After a few days with no improvement, I called the pediatrician and made an appointment for an exam. 

We learned that she had developed a chalazion, a blockage in an oil gland of the eyelid and were given a prescription for Tobramycin eye drops and instructed to give our daughter warm compresses twice a day to encourage drainage. And so it began…

Diligently, I tried to hold a warm washcloth on our daughter's eye as I attempted to read her stories for nap time and before bed. It became quite the balancing act as she'd throw my arm away so she could have use of BOTH eyes for the entertainment. Without a book to captivate her, there was no chance I'd be able to hold her still for these compresses. It was an arduous struggle twice a day, but I persevered through gritted teeth every time, barely managing 3 minutes of lukewarm compresses on the affected eye. And this scene wasn't getting any sunnier- not only was her left eye not improving, her right eye began to redden and swell as well!

So the next step was to visit with a pediatric ophthalmologist to determine a course of action. He confirmed that she had two chalazia and that a THIRD was beginning to form on the lid of her left eye. Because of the size of these blockages and the persistence of the initial chalazion, he recommended surgery to drain them to prevent damage from the pressure on her eyes. 

I felt the room pulling away from me in tunnel vision. Surgery?!? I had to sign a piece of paper consenting to put my baby girl under anesthesia? Understand that the risk of anything happening was low, but in a rare event, death may result? Trying to disguise my complete panic, I took a few deep breaths, re-read the papers and forced myself to be a rational grown-up. 

With my breath held and eyes closed, I signed the forms and agreed to bring my sweet daughter in for the surgery in two days time. 

And for those two days, I was a complete wreck, losing control of rational thought entirely. What could I have done to prevent this from happening to my daughter? How can I undergo the surgery FOR her? What if she is traumatized for the rest of her life from this experience? What if there are complications during the surgery? What if...? 

What can I say? There are times when mamas get a lil' batty. For me, just the word "anesthesia" gives me a case of the willies. Add the name of a loved one into the sentence and I'm a nervous wreck until the work is done. We were talkin' about my BABY here! Man.

On the night before the procedure, I don't know if I slept at all. Perhaps I drifted in and out between my worrying, praying, tossing and turning, but it was certainly one of the longest nights of my life to date.
Okay, I'm getting a little dramatic here. I'll spare you (and myself) the ultra-descriptive version of the tale and get on with it. 

The surgery went smoothly, took about 25 minutes and there were no complications. The outlook was good, and as soon as she calmed down upon awakening, we could take our darling home.

And so we did. But our sweet beauty wasn't looking quite like herself after surgery.

It was sad. Poor kid had to keep her right eye patched for 24 hours, and we'd need to administer more Tobramycin eye drops three times a day for a week. As prevention of future chalazion development, we were advised to incorporate ground flaxseed into her diet and give at least 3 warm compresses a day for 15 minutes each. Fifteen minutes of compresses for each eye?!? This was going to be tricky.

We followed doctor's orders, and although I wasn't crazy about using the television as a tool here, I managed to get our kiddo to sit still on my lap to watch Sesame Street. Yes. Elmo is THAT captivating. After a few hours, the swelling began to subside and her eyes looked substantially better by dinnertime that evening.

The next morning, I was able to remove the patch and was pleasantly shocked to see that she looked almost like herself again! The swelling was almost completely gone, and aside from some mild bruising and redness, my baby was back! Her spirits were soaring from all the extra attention from visiting family and she was just right as rain.

We continued to give warm compresses for several weeks after the surgery to ensure that the chalazia would not return. Having gotten used to the connection between sitting for a compress and watching Sesame Street, we developed a smooth routine that worked well for everyone. Compresses were given right before naps and bedtime, and she began to associate the process with winding down. She benefited from the warmth and calm relaxation and WE benefited from the ability to actually get some snuggle time with our toddler who was otherwise on the GO GO GO! Who doesn't crave a little cuddling now and then, right?

If any readers have stumbled upon this post in search of help battling chalazia, for us, the most effective method was absolutely using compresses as soon as we saw any signs of watery eye developing. We could actually see her eyes producing what looked like a glaze for some time after the surgery. To help the eye dissolve any thick oil production, we'd wet a washcloth, place it in a bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds. After the washcloth was removed from the bowl, we'd make sure it wasn't too hot and then would hold it against the eye for 15 minutes. After trying several methods for preparing compresses, this was the best strategy to maintain heat for the longest interval.

The pediatric ophthalmologist told us that it is a mystery why some children are afflicted with this problem but the situation often just clears itself up suddenly. The mysterious programming inside our bodies can just shift- like that- can simply adjust and stop making the thick oil that had been causing blockages, chalazia, to develop.

And to our delighted relief, that's exactly what happened. It seemed that, after the surgery and our persistent follow-up compresses, her eyes adjusted properly and found their groove. We have had no repeat occurrences of chalazia since the surgery, for almost three years now. Our daughter's eyes are beautifully clear and bright, there was no scarring and her vision was completely unaffected by the procedure. She certainly has no trouble batting those lashes nowadays when she wants something. Girls.
-sigh-

And that's all there was to it. As parents, we learned many a lesson from our daughter's battle with chalazia. There will be times when tricky situations are bound to sneak up on us. There will be days when we will be filled with apprehension and concern. There will be moments when decisions will have to be made. But, if we're lucky, the ickies will be gone in the blink of an eye. We're left with the confidence that we can band together to get through any obstacle- as a family and as a team.

Now it's all eyes ahead for a bright future...

If you have any other questions, concerns or feedback in regards to chalazia, please feel free to contact me or leave comments here. Grappling with these stinkers is definitely a drag, but we'd be happy to help lend support till the ducts are clear. Wink. Wink.

XOXO From My Hearth to Yours
***Follow up, when the BLASTED chalazia returned 2 years later- "Looking Chalazia Right in the Eyes." Drat.


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31 comments:

Shazberry said...

I wonder if you could use warm rice compresses as opposed to the warm wash cloth. If I ever run into this I'm going to ask.

Cally Graham said...

What a great idea! Wish someone had mentioned that to me when we were doing compresses several times a day! I even found a link that confirms your idea. Check this out- http://www.ncascade.com/Services/MEC_Chalazion.htm I hope, if anyone has need, they will try that and report on how it goes. Thanks, Shazberry!

Anonymous said...

thank you for writing this, we are preparing for possible surgery on our 16 month old soon ..........

Cally Graham said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. I know how stressed you must feel right now. Have you tried warm compresses? If I could go back in time, I'd have tried more/longer compresses to get the chalazia under control. I didn't realize how important that step was from the start, and the blockages just got ahead of me. If you have any questions, we're here for you! Best wishes!

Ben taev said...

Wow!! Kaira looks very cute in childhood pics and her eyes looks beautiful after worst treatment.I feel proud to those doctors who take this responsibility of difficult eye surgery and make her eyes safe from that disease.Treatment of Dry Eye Syndrome

Cally Graham said...

We were so appreciative of the surgeon who helped us get through this difficult phase. A good doc makes all the difference, huh? I wrote this post because we know how difficult it is to ride out this affliction, and we wanted to help other people get information about our experience. Thank you for your positivity! Much appreciated!

Anonymous said...

Great post & am glad to hear your daughter is fine now. I have had chalazia sneak up on me somehow, & am 32! Socially I can't describe how awkward this affliction is, in personal & professional life. I am still waiting to be referred to a specialist/surgeon - though your post calms my nerves regarding that approach if it comes down to it.

Cally Graham said...

Dang! I'm so sorry to hear that. I know how awkward it is trying to deal with this affliction right there on your peepers!

While you're waiting for that surgeon, try those warm compresses as much as you can. After reading Shazzberry's post up there, I looked into the rice compresses, tried them and found they really work well. Just put some rice in a sock and put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Then hold it on your eye and kick back for a bit.I

I really hope it helps. I'm interested to see how the treatment will differ for an adult, so if you think of it, get back to us and let us know how everything turns out.

Sending you lots of luck and love!
C

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Cally said...

Did your chalazia go away on their own, or did you need to have them excised? I'm so sad to report that they have returned now...and BOTH of our daughters are affected. It's awful and so stressful. If you found any tips that work, please send them our way. Best wishes to you.

Diane said...

Hi there, thank you for posting this and giving me hope. at the beginning of last month we noticed a small little lump in the corner of my 4 year old daughters eye. We took her to the doctor and he said it was a chalazion and to use warm compresses and prescribed tobramycin - if it didn't get better within a week he would refer us to a pediatric ophthalmologist. A week later it seemed to be almost gone ( i was so happy) but then out of no where an even larger lump appeared on the same eye above on the eye lash line. I called my doctor who said to continue with warm compresses and drops and come back in a week. A week later it was super swollen, so we went back. At this point he faxed in the referral and just told us to hold tight, it could take up to 6 months to get an appointment, and that if it got worst to phone him. That night i went against my doctors orders adn started googling - what a night mare, story after story of children and adults unable to clear them and stories of returning chalazions even after surgery!! I have basically cried everyday since then.

Last night it seems 1 more lump is forming in the same eye underneath - i quickly put the warm compress on it and did it again before she went to bed. This morning i calle dthe doctor to let him know and they said they are going to try and get her in sooner to the specialist. (fingers crossed)


To top everything off, she has just started this week at a new preschool and everyday she comes home with the saddest stories about everyone asking about her eye- i wont go into to detail but it is breaking my heart.
Everyone keeps saying "oh it could be worse, you shouldn't be so upset"
But it doesn't change the worry, concern or pain in my heart.

I am so happy i have finally found one story of someone getting them and having the surgery and the chalzions not having returned within a few weeks.

Your daughter is beautiful, thank you for sharing your story and helping mammas like me try to keep it together.

I did have a quick question- we have been doing the warm wet compress thing but are having a hard time keeping it consistently warm for 10-15 minutes. My husband suggested we used our "Magic bean" bag (which u microwave and stays warm for long periods of time, but it has to stay dry) is the water/wet aspect of the compress important or just the heat? Did you just keep putting your cloth back into the warm water or did you find it stayed warm enough by microwaving it?

Thank you for you help in advance.

Cally said...

Hi Diane.

Let me start off by sending you a big cyber hug, because MAN do we understand where you're coming from on this one.

I wish, with my whole heart and soul, that I had better news to report, but as you can see in my recent post here http://www.frommyhearthtoyours.com/2013/06/looking-chalazia-right-in-eyes.html

...they're back. DANG!

This time, BOTH of our daughters have multiple chalazia...at the same TIME! It's the worst!

We weren't even scheduled to be seen by the ped. opth. till after 4 weeks had passed, so during that time, I did compresses like crazy. I was using rice in a sock (as you will see in the link I added above) but I have since switched back to warm washcloths in hopes that the moisture helps. I reheat after 5-10 minutes.

We got the same drops and ointment, and they did nothing to help the situation. It seems they just keep coming. It's just awful. One doc said he doesn't like the ointment because he thinks it can make clogging worse.

Kaira hadn't had ANY signs of problems for years since her surgery, so I have no idea what prompted BOTH kids to get them at the same time. It seems so suspicious!

So now, it has been over two months of compresses. We did two courses of the drops and ointment, but these stinking things aren't going away. I fear we're going to have to do the surgery again. I'm sweating thinking about it, but I just want to move forward at this point.

We've talked to two doctors, and we hear that, once they harden, it's likely that they just aren't going to rupture and won't drain on their own without excision. Ugh.

I wonder if, once they get one, more are likely to clog up in there?

Another mom who endured this has been in contact with me, and she said that, after 2 months, she stopped doing compresses, stopped everything and it drained on its own. No docs have advised us to stop compresses, so I haven't tried this, but I found that interesting.

I have also been trying Omega-3 supplements and compresses soaked in epsom salts, but the girls' eyes are just SO clogged. They both have multiple chalazia. It's a nightmare. I'm with you, friend.

Lastly, I obsessively read online, and I am also washing their eyes with Ocusoft Lid Scrub foam, which I read is helpful. One of my daughter's chalazia seem to be coming to heads having started this, so who knows if that is helping, but I'm washing their lids every morning and night as well to keep the oil at bay.



Please please please do stay in touch throughout your process and let us know if ANYTHING helps. I, too, dread the reactions of others who don't understand about chalazia. The worst is seeing parents who are afraid that chalazia are contagious. It makes my heart hurt. I pray this will clear up as they get older.


Sending you all the love and support in the world.
We're in it with you.
Here's to hoping...


xoxox
Cally

Cally said...

Follow up on chalazia- http://www.frommyhearthtoyours.com/2013/06/looking-chalazia-right-in-eyes.html

Unfortunately...they returned. Damn.

Kizzie said...

I am really pleased to see her eyes looking so beautiful now and I came to this page cos I have had very eye problems since 2002 and I was only born in 1997 .. This yr from April onwards I got three chalazions and I recently underwent a removal surgery for one but it's not gone and I'm starting to get worried as I still have two weeks left to my check up (that follows after the opt like a check up) but it's getting irritating cos no eye specialist is finding an answer to any of my various eye conditions and they just seem to be getting worse

Kizzie said...

And I have tried the hot compresses many times but they never seem to work instead they aggravate my eyes and as a matter of fact I think the heat from the compresses actually made one of my chalazions grow

Kizzie said...

And honestly kaira must have been such a brave lil girl to go through it.. My eyelid had to be injected three times with anaesthesia as it wouldn't numb and I understand the discomfort she must've gone through .. But honestly she is a lil beauty now!

Cally said...

Interesting, Kizzie! We also suspected that the compresses might have aggravated some of the more recent chalazia we've battled. BOTH of our daughters just had surgery to excise more chalazia, and it was stressful but relieving. Now we just have to keep them away. We're washing their eyes 2x a day and are doing a compress once a day on each eye. Let us know how it all works out for you. These chalazia are just the PITS!

Kizzie said...

Sorry for such a late reply I've been busy at college and sorry I didn't notice maybe because of the time that day that both your Daughters had chalazions ..! That's horrible but I'm also relieved that there eyes are fine and healthy now and I can't understand how scary it must've been for you cos it's really hard for a mum to watch their child go through that - I can relate lol

Kizzie said...

Can* I had my follow up appointment and my chalazions grown back into it's big self - but it had never really gone so it's just grown big again.. The scary thing is that there is no dirt in the lump it's just so big that it literally leaves my eye half open - my eyelid takes up soo much space and it's getting irritating as I'm just sick of medicine as I have been on steroid drops for three years and now with college it's rather embarrassing but I will let you know if ever in the future or whenever they get better x

Jasmine said...

Thank you for sharing! I've been dealing with chalazions a for 3 years now. I have one of my very worst ones right now and dreading having it removed. I don't want to experience it again. It's frustrating having to do warm compresses when it doesn't work well for me. It's huge so I'm trying to figure out if I should be more patient and keep doing warm compresses or just do the surgery. :/

Cally said...

Ugh. Aren't they the WORST?!? My youngest had a gnarly one a couple of months ago, and because it just kept getting bigger over a 2 month period, we opted for excision. It was a good call, because the ped. opth. said hers was so deep, it was almost to the tarsus. Ew. It was so bad, I didn't even want to post pics because it triggers so much stress. It has been a month since the surgery, and she has a tiny scar, but it's an incredible relief to have it gone. We are following up with 2 eye washings each day and a one minute compress on each eye daily. Best wishes to you. Please do follow up with us and let us know how you're doing. The surgery was quick and effective, and although the leading up to it was stressful, we are sure we made the right choice given the size and persistence of that dang chalazion. Hang in there, friend!

Cally said...

Have you ever considered excision? It's a last resort, but our ped. opth. told us that some might never go away on their own. We couldn't take it anymore and were worried about pressure on their eyes. The surgery is quick and simple. Keep us posted. We're pulling for ya!

Kizzie said...

And I'm sorry if I'm not replying properly all you other lovely people who are leaving comments as my phones a but slow and the dates and orders of the comments are muddled so I'm not sure whether they're directed towards me. Also cally can I ask did your daughters or did anyone else waterline get ruined as in swell or distort because mine has and it's something the doctors say might need to be grafted?

Cally Graham said...

Kizzie- I'm so sorry your situation is like this right now. I know how hard it is.

I'm very glad you asked about the waterlines. BOTH my girls DO have marks/redness/scarring where the had their chalazia excised. I'm concerned about it, but I'm hoping the scarring will diminish over time, as it has only been one month since their procedures.

How long has it been since your excision?

How frequently and for how many minutes would you say you tried the compresses? Were you using a warm washcloth, rice bags or the potato compress?

Did you ever try epsom salt compresses?

Keep the info coming, as I'm horrorstruck in noting that I believe my 2-yr-old is ALREADY getting another small chalazion under her upper lid.

The pedi. opth. injected the girls' lids with something to prevent them from recurring. I've put in a call to get the specifics on what that was- as my daughter was UNHAPPY upon awakening from the procedure and I didn't have the chance to ask more questions. I will report when I have details on that.

What was your situation like when you were younger? How often did these stinking things pop up on you?

Sending you sunshine and SUPPORT, friend.
Cally

debbie said...

My daughter is two and is scheduled to have this procedure done in the optomologist s office this Wednesday .Thing is, he says he's just going to numb the area (shot) then we will just have to hold her down while he does procedure. He feels sedating her is too dangerous. I agree, but how safe is it to risk us holding her hands and head still while he's probing around in her eye with a scalpel? Uhhg!