Blepharitis is a chronic inflammation of the eyelids, which can cause burning, irritation, itching, tearing, crusting of the eyelashes, and, occasionally, a red eye. Blepharitis can begin in early childhood or develop later in life. The condition may occur only once but, more often, recurs repeatedly. Chronic blepharitis may lead to corneal scarring and decreased visual acuity.
What Are The Symptoms Of Blepharitis?
There are two basic types of blepharitis anterior and posterior. The more common form, anterior blepharitis, is an immune response to an overgrowth of normal skin bacteria that live on the eyelids. It is characterized by redness of the eyelid margin and crusty scales or flaking around the eyelashes. Loss of eyelashes and distortion of the margins of the eyelids are also common complications in any form of blepharitis. Seborrheic blepharitis is a subset of anterior blepharitis which is slightly less common and is characterized by less eyelid redness but more crust or flakes around the eyelashes. It is often associated with flaking the skin around the nose and hairline.
The second type of blepharitis is posterior blepharitis, more commonly known as “Meibomian Gland Disease.” With this condition, the large oil glands which line the upper and lower eyelids become clogged due to inflammation within the glands themselves. The oil secreted by the glands is important to the health of the ocular surface, and lack of oil or turbid oil leads to symptoms of dry eyes with burning, tearing, blurred vision, itching, and general discomfort of the eyes.
What Causes Blepharitis?
There are a number of factors that may encourage it. These include:
- Clogged oil glands in your eyelids. These are called the Meibomian Glands.
- Overgrowth of normal bacteria
- Seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff)
- Mites or lice known as Demodex
- Rosacea (a skin condition characterized by redness)
What Is The Treatment?
Strict lid hygiene is very important when it comes to the treatment of blepharitis. Warm compresses and eyelid scrubs may be useful:
- Warm Compresses should be applied at least two times per day for 10-15 minutes to heat and loosen the oil in the eyelids to aid in expression of the oil from the glands. This can be accomplished in several ways. We recommend a commercially available microwave reheatable mask which can be purchased in our optical shop. Alternatively, a warm washcloth can also be used.
- Eyelid scrubs are equally as important to remove the eyelid debris and crusted oil. Eyelid scrubs should be performed twice daily. We recommend Ocusoft Lid Scrubs, Ocusoft Hypochlor, and Zenoptiq Eyelash Hygiene Solution which are available in our optical shop. Alternatively, baby shampoo on a wet washcloth may be used as well.
Anti-Inflammatory and Antibiotic Medications
Depending on the severity of your blepharitis, limited use of antibiotic ointments, topical steroids, or cyclosporine may be necessary to control blepharitis. In some patients, oral antibiotics, such as doxycycline, may be helpful.
If blepharitis is a concern, schedule an appointment with Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor & Haun. Our cornea specialists will development a treatment plan to effectively manage the condition, based on your personal needs.
Persons Over Age 50 Should See An Eye Care Professional Every 2 years.
Schedule your appointment today. Drs. Campbell, Cunningham, Taylor and Haun are standing by ready to offer personal care and state-of-the-art technology.
Our offices in Knoxville, Farragut, Hardin Valley, Fountain City, Maryville, Oak Ridge, and Sevierville are ready to help. For an appointment, call (865) 584-0905.