What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids. Those with blepharitis often suffer from red, irritated, itchy eyelids and dandruff-like scales on the eyelid. It can sometimes be associated with a bacterial eye infection, dry eye symptoms or certain skin conditions like acne rosacea. Other related conditions, like pink eye, occur at the same time. Some cases of blepharitis may be chronic.
Untreated, blepharirtis can lead to:
- Ectropion (exposure of the inner, lower eyelid that causes pain or discomfort)
- Thickened lid margins
- Dilated and visible capillaries
- Trichiasis (forces eyelash growth inward or toward the eye)
- Entropion (turning in of the eyelid allowing eyelashes to rub the surface of the eye)
- Erosion of the cornea due to eyelashes rubbing against the eye.
Since inflammation can affect different parts of the eyelid’s function, there are two basic forms of blepharitis. These may occur independently or simultaneously but at different severities.
Anterior blepharitis affects where the eyelashes are attached, on the outer, front side of the eyelid.
Posterior blepharitis affects the meibomian glands inside the lid. These glands secrete oils that help lubricate the eye.
What causes blepharitis?
- bacterial infections
- malfunctioning oil glands
- eyelash mites or lice
What are the symptoms of blepharitis?
- Inflamed eyelids
- The sensation that something is in the eye
How is blepharitis diagnosed?
Blepharitis can be diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. Several tests that are used to closely evaluate the eyelids and front of the eyeball may include an external examination of they eye, eyelid, surrounding skin and eyelashes; evaluation of lid margins and meibomian gland openings; evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears; and a look at other possible contributing health conditions in the patient’s history.
How is blepharitis treated?
Treatment for blepharitis varies by the specific type. However, in many cases, one of the most effective treatments is keeping the lids clean. In many cases, blepharitis will not be completely gone, but symptoms can be addressed.
- Limit or discontinue using eye makeup before beginning an eyelid treatment.
- Contacts may also need to be discontinued during treatement.
- Clean the lids using a warm compress, then gently scrub with warm water and baby shampoo or lid cleaning product.
- For blepharitis that is caused by a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be prescribed.
- An eyelid massage may be used to clean oil accumulation from eyelid glands.
- Artificial tear solutions or lubricating ointments may be prescribed.
- Anti-dandruff shampoo used on the scalp may be suggested.
- Severe or reoccurring cases of blepharitis may require more complex treatments.
North Suburban Eye Specialists has helped many patients find relief from Blepharitis. Your eye doctor can help you find the right treatment for this common eye condition and relief for your eyes. Call today to schedule an appointment.