What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common, long-term inflammation of the eyelids. There are two ways in which blepharitis may appear.
The most common and less severe form is seborrheic blepharitis, and is often associated with dandruff of the scalp or skin conditions like acne. It usually appears as greasy flakes or scales around the base of the eyelashes and as a mild redness of the eyelid. Sometimes it may result in a roughness of the tissue that lines the inside of the eyelids or in styes.
Ulcerative blepharitis is a less common, but more severe condition that may be characterized by matted, hard crusts around the eyelashes, which, when removed, leave small sores that may bleed or ooze. There may also be a loss of eyelashes, distortion of the front edges of the eyelids and chronic watering of the eyes.
What are the symptoms of blepharitis?
Symptoms include red and irritated eyelids, itching, burning, and an oily discharge or scaly skin on the eyelids. Some people describe this as "psoriasis of the eyelids".
What are the causes of blepharitis?
Bacteria reside on the surface of everyone's skin at the base of the eyelashes. An overgrowth of this bacteria, sometimes associated with over-activity of the nearby oil glands, causes dandruff-like scales and particles to form along the lashes and eyelid margins. Sometimes the scaling or bacteria produce only minor irritation and itching, but in some they may cause redness, stinging, or burning. Some people may develop a sensitivity or allergic reaction to the scales and bacteria which surround them. This can lead to more serious complications, including an inflammation of the eye tissues, particularly the cornea.
Poor lid hygiene, not removing makeup daily, and not following instruction on the use of false lashes can increase the amount of bacteria on the lids and lashes, which in turn can cause blepharitis as well.
Who develops blepharitis?
Blepharitis can affect people of all ages. This condition frequently occurs in people who have a tendency towards oily skin, dandruff, or dry eyes. Also those that live in areas in which the skin is more prone to be dry and areas where pollutants are in the air are seen to have more cases of blepharitis.
How is blepharitis diagnosed?
Every eyelid and eyelash is evaluated at every comprehensive eye examination at Visualeyes Optometry. Our optometrist can evaluate your eyes to determine if blepharitis is present, the level of blepharitis, and all treatment options that may help you.
What are the treatments for blepharitis?
Blepharitis is usually not serious and can be treated easily. In certain cases, it may not be cured, but it can be controlled with a few simple daily measures. If left untreated, it can be very uncomfortable, unattractive, and lead to more serious problems, including loss of eyelashes, distortion of the front edges of the eyelids, and chronic watering of the eyes.
To treat blepharitis, daily lid hygiene is required, which can include lid scrubs, warm soaks, and other various measures. It is important to keep the lid edges and surrounding skin clean with these techniques. Medicated pads and solutions sold at Visualeyes Optometry and drug stores may be required.
For more serious cases, topical antibiotic ointments, oral antibiotics, and/or steroid drops can also be prescribed by our optometrists to calm the inflammation.
It is also important to use artificial tears to relieve any symptoms of dry eyes.
While over-the-counter treatments for blepharitis are available, it is advisable to consult with our optometrists the first time you experience this condition. If you have had blepharitis before and had experience with its treatment, using the over-the-counter ointments may be adequate. But, whether you have had the condition before or not, you should call our optometrists as soon as possible to reduce the risk of having the infection spread and cause more serious conditions.
What is the prognosis of blepharitis?
Blepharitis is usually not serious and can often be treated easily, but if left untreated, can be very uncomfortable, unattractive, and lead to more serious problems. But remember that this is a chronic condition and requires daily cleansing to keep your eyelids at their healthiest. So make sure that they are having your yearly eye examinations so this can condition can be caught.