What is Blepharitis: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

19 May
2017
By Marie

Blepharitis is the most common cause of dry eyes. It is usually a non-contagious and common eye disorder that may be associated with bacterial infection or skin disorders such as rosacea or seborrhea. Blepharitis affects all ages and both sexes, it can result from:

  • Bacterial eyelid infection
  • Dry eyes
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)s
  • Parasites (Demodex eyelash mites)
  • Fungal eyelid infection

Risk factors may include:

  • Exposure to allergens
  • Oily skin
  • Dermatitis of the scalp and other body parts
  • Diabetes
  • Exposure to chemical or environmental irritants like smoke or smog
  • Age
  • Acne rosacea
  • Hands that remain dirty for most of the day (such as during a work shift, or poor hygiene)

Many eye care professionals treat it as a serious condition; Blepharitis alone is not known to cause any permanent damage to eyesight. This condition inflames the lashes follicles along the edge of the eyelid by forming the dandruff particles on the eyelashes. The oil glands (also known as meibomian glands) run along the edges of the eyelids and when these meibomian glands become inflamed and irritated, the oil secretions thicken and do not flow properly. If the Blepharitis is severe, then the related problems affecting the cornea can threaten vision.

Blepharitis can be divided into two sub-types based on whether it affects the front (anterior) eyelid structures or the back (posterior) eyelid structures. Some people have posterior blepharitis or predominantly anterior, while some people have both.

Signs and Symptoms of Blepharitis

The presence of Blepharitis or eyelid inflammation can be identified by many symptoms. Some symptoms are severe than the normal one, and sometimes a person may not experience any of these symptoms at all. The most common symptoms of Blepharitis include:

  • Itchiness
  • Redness of the eyes or eyelids.
  • Flaking
  • Crusting of the lashes or lids, especially when first awakening.

Complaints also include:

  • Sensations of burning or itching in the eyes
  • Blurring of vision
  • Loss of eyelashes
  • Gritty sensation when blinking
  • Excessive eye watering or tearing
  • Dry eyes
  • Stickiness of the eyes
  • Oversensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Intolerance to wearing contact lenses.

Blepharitis is not a sight-threatening problem, but it can result in decreased vision which can come and go.

Treatment Options for Blepharitis

Depending on which type of Blepharitis you have, there are a number of treatments available to treat this condition. Blepharitis cannot be cured, but the treatment is successful in managing symptoms.

  • Warm compress helps skin to soften and loosen oily plugs and crusts.
  • After a warm compress, the patient should then cleanse their eyelids and eyelashes with baby shampoo diluted with water, or a commercial eyelid cleanser. This is done by gently rubbing the margin of the eyelids.
  • Avoid rubbing too hard and rinse with lukewarm water when finished.

One should discontinue the use of contact lenses until symptoms improve. Also, avoid environmental irritants.

Some additional treatments include:

  • Antibiotic drops or lubricating ointments to relieve grittiness, burning, and dryness
  • Oral antibiotics
  • Take supplements like omega-3 fatty acid, omega-3 helps in the proper function and regulation of the eyelid glands and has an anti-inflammatory effect. Always tell your eye doctor about any supplements you are taking. They may interact with other medications you take.

After your Blepharitis has been successfully treated, you can resume wearing your contact lenses if that’s your preference. If you are currently wearing reusable contact lenses, consider switching to daily disposable contacts or gas permeable contacts, it may have a lower risk of a Blepharitis-related problem.

Prevention of Blepharitis

Blepharitis typically is one of a very chronic type condition, meaning it can come back frequently and can be a recurring problem. Additional preventive measures that you can take to prevent Blepharitis include:

  • The best way to avoid Blepharitis or keep it from coming back is to keep the area around your eyes clean regularly with a warm compress and gentle lid hygiene
  • By treating skin disorders such as rosacea or seborrhea
  • Avoid using eyeliner on the back edges of eyelids behind the lashes
  • Removing all eye makeup before bedtime
  • Avoid dusty or smoky environments whenever possible
  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes even after washing your hands
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