Blepharitis

Blepharitis is inflammation of both eyelids and usually involves the part of the eyelid where the eyelashes grow. This occurs when tiny oil glands located near the base of the eyelashes become clogged resulting in irritated and red eyes.

Some diseases and conditions can cause Blepharitis. As a chronic condition that is difficult to treat, and can be uncomfortable and unsightly. It is not contagious and usually doesn't cause permanent damage to your eyesight.

Complications can result in sty, an inflamed swelling on the edge of an eyelid, caused by bacterial infection of the gland at the base of an eyelash.

Chalazion occurs when there's a blockage in one of the small oil glands at the margin of the eyelid, just behind the eyelashes. The gland can become infected with bacteria, which causes a red, swollen eyelid. Unlike a sty, a Chalazion tends to be most prominent on the inside of the eyelid.

If you have Blepharitis symptoms and signs that don't seem to be improving despite good hygiene — regular cleaning and care of the affected area — make an appointment with your doctor.

The exact cause of Blepharitis isn't clear but can be associated with the following:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) of the scalp and eyebrows
  • Bacterial infection
  • Clogged or malfunctioning oil glands in the eyelids
  • Rosacea, the skin condition characterized by facial redness of varying degrees
  • Allergies and allergic reactions to eye medications, contact lens solutions or makeup
  • Eyelash mites or lice.

Patients with Blepharitis may experience:

 

Chronic pink eye (conjunctivitis)

Eyelash loss

Misdirected eyelash growth

Eyelid skin scarring. The eyelid edges can turn inward or outward

Dry eyes or excess tearing. Abnormal oily secretions and other debris shed from the eyelids and can accumulate in the tear film interfering with the healthy lubrication of the eyelids, resulting in dry eyes or excess tearing

Difficulty wearing contact lenses. Contact lenses can be too uncomfortable to wear because Blepharitis affects the amount of lubrication in the eyes

Sty. This infection that develops near the base of the eyelashes results in a painful lump on the edge of the eyelid, usually the edge

Injury to the cornea. Constant irritation from inflamed eyelids or misdirected eyelashes may cause a sore (ulcer) to develop on your cornea. Insufficient tearing could predispose you to a corneal infection.

 

Symptoms

Blepharitis symptoms include:

Watery eyes

Red eyes

Gritty, burning or stinging sensation in the eyes

Eyelids that appear greasy

Itchy eyelids

Red, swollen eyelids

Flaking skin around the eyes

Crusted eyelashes after sleeping

Eyelid sticking

Frequent blinking

Sensitivity to light

Misdirected growth of eyelashes

Eyelash loss.

 

Treatment

Washing your eyes using warm compresses can treat most cases of Blepharitis. If that is not enough, your doctor may suggest prescription treatments, including:

  • Antibiotics applied to the eyelid to relieve symptoms include eyedrops, creams and ointments. Oral antibiotics can be prescribed when topical antibiotics don’t work
  • Steroid eye drops or ointments to control inflammation
  • Restasis or Topical Cyclosporine is a calcineurin inhibitor and offers relief of some signs and symptoms
  • Blepharitis caused by seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea or other diseases may be controlled by treatment.

 

Captions

During examination, the eye doctor will swab to collect a sample of the oil or crust that forms on the eyelid to test for bacteria, fungi or evidence of an allergy.

 

Blepharitis rarely disappears completely. Even when treated, the condition frequently is chronic and requires daily attention with eyelid scrubs.

On a more serious note, nonresponse to treatment or loss of eyelashes in only one eye could be diagnosed as a localized eyelid cancer. See your eye doctor for a proper diagnosis.

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