Smartphone May Be A Reliable Tool for Diagnosing Chalazia in Children

Young Boy with Chalazion, Small bump in the eyelid caused by a blockage of a tiny oil gland, Meibomian glands. (Photo By BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Clinicians may be able to use smartphone images to decrease the burden of follow-up visits.

Photographs taken by parents on personal smartphones may help clinicians assess chalazia in children and serve as another option to follow-up examination, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

Researchers conducted an investigation to determine whether photos of eyelids taken by smartphones are useful in diagnosing childhood chalazia. They enrolled 60 children (age range, 7 months to 16.5 years, 62% girls) with a chalazion of at least 2 mm on at least one eyelid in a prospective, cross-sectional analysis. An in-person pediatric eye care professional confirmed each diagnosis.

The team instructed parents to take a series of pictures of their child’s eyelids and forward them to the study website where masked readers analyzed them for chalazia. They calculated the sensitivity and specificity of chalazia presence.

Of 240 eyelid photographs, 85 exhibited at least 1 chalazion and 155 did not exhibit any. The masked reader correctly identified 68 of 85 eyelids with at least 1 chalazion and 151 of 155 eyelids without chalazia for a sensitivity of 80% (95%CI, 72-86%) and specificity of 97% (95% CI, 94-99%). The sensitivity increased to 89% for chalazia that were 5 mm or larger and 94% for those located superficially within the eyelid.

“Clinical application of smartphone photographs may become more widely used as demand for tele-ophthalmic care increases,” according to the researchers. “The present study demonstrated that smartphone photographs alone were sufficient to identify the presence of chalazia in 84% of cases, lending itself readily as a tool for future clinical studies and potentially decreasing the burden of follow-up visits in clinical practice.”

Study limitations include a small sample size, an underrepresentation of small and chronic chalazia, a lack of clinical patient history, and the use of convenience sampling. 

Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or clinical research organizations. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 


Erzurum SA, Wu R, Melia BM, et al. Parent-provided photographs as an outcome measure for childhood chalazia. J AAPOS. Published online March 17, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.jaapos.2021.11.012.