What Is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a chronic and persistent inflammation of the eyelids. It is one of the most common eye disorders and frequently occurs in people who have oily skin, dandruff or dry eyes. Although it can be very annoying and unsightly, it is not a vision-threatening disorder.
Blepharitis is normally caused by a disruption to the oil glands of the eyelids, which allows the normal bacteria on your skin to thrive. Another common cause is seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), an inflammation that causes white, scaly patches to form in oily areas of the body, such as the scalp, eyebrows and ears. Blepharitis can also be caused by allergies, as well as by an infestation of lice in the eyelashes.
Who Is at Risk for Blepharitis?
You are at risk for blepharitis if you have oily skin and/or hair, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea and allergies.
What Are the Symptoms of Blepharitis?
If you have blepharitis, you will notice that your upper and lower eyelids become coated with debris near your eyelashes. It may also cause itching and redness of your eye, and you may awaken with the sensation of having sand in your eyes. Some people also experience dry eye as a result of blepharitis.
Blepharitis usually cannot be cured, but it can be managed. If blepharitis is not controlled, it can lead to recurrent styes (soft, red bumps on the eyelids) or chalazions (hard bumps on the eyelids).
How Is Blepharitis Detected?
Blepharitis is diagnosed as a result of a visual inspection of your eyelids. The doctor will look for inflammation, redness and crusting on the eyelids and eyelashes. In some cases, the doctor may take a small sample of cells to determine if the cause is a bacterial infection.
How Is Blepharitis Treated?
While blepharitis is usually a chronic condition that cannot be cured, your symptoms can be controlled by maintaining a scrupulous cleansing regiment that may include:
- Warm compresses: Place a clean washcloth that has been soaked in warm water on your closed eyelids for a minute. Repeat two to three (2-3) times. This loosens the debris on your eyelids and helps dilute oil secretions.
- Eyelid scrubs: Gently clean your lids with a few drops of baby shampoo with warm water or a commercially-available eyelid cleanser. You should always use a clean washcloth, cotton swab, or lint-free pad.
- Antibiotic ointment: Using a clean fingertip or cotton swab, apply a small amount of antibiotic ointment to your lashes at bedtime.
- Artificial tears: Apply drops to your inside lower lid to temporarily relieve the symptoms of dry eye and irritation.
If your blepharitis is in an acute phase, you may need to use warm compresses and eye lid scrubs two or three times a day. When your symptoms are under control, you may be able to reduce this routine to once a day, as long as you remain symptom free. The regular use of antibacterial or anti-dandruff shampoo on your hair and eyebrows may also help.
Primary Eye Care Specialists at Kadrmas Eye Care New England
Meet our ophthalmologists and optometrists who specialize in primary eye care and general eye health: