Blepharitis


What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis, or granulated eyelids, is a common and chronic condition where the eyelids become inflamed, with oily particles and bacteria coating the eyelid margins near the base of the eyelashes.  This can cause itching, irritation, redness, "mattering", tearing,  and stinging of the eyes.  Anterior blepharitis affects the outer part of the lid margins where the eyelashes are attached.  Posterior blepharitis, or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), results from a dysfunction of the eye's oil glands (meibomian glands) at the base of the lashes.  This condition is very frequently associated with dry eyes.

What Causes Blepharitis?

It is usually caused by bacteria thriving in the skin at the base of the eyelashes.  This can cause dandruff-like particles and "crusting" to form along the lid margins.  Other conditions can contribute to blepharitis, including malfunctioning of the eyelid oil glands, seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), and acne rosacea.  Cosmetics can also exacerbate blepharitis.

Blepharitis Treatment

Blepharitis is a chronic, or ongoing, condition, but the symptoms can be controlled by the following treatments:

  • Hot Compresses : Wet a clean washcloth with hot water (be careful not to burn yourself), wring it out, and place it over your closed eyelids for several minutes. Repeat two or three times, reheating the cloth as it cools.  This is recommended as often as possible.  This procedure loosens debris on the lids and lashes and also helps to "open" clogged oil glands.
  • Eyelid Scrubs : To "clean" lid margins and lashes, it is recommended that you use a commercial OTC eyelid hygiene product, such as Ocusoft pads.  After applying hot compress to lids, gently scrub the base of your eyelashes with one of the pre-moistened cleansing pads.  These are also recommended for removing eyelid cosmetics before bed.
  • Nutritional Supplements : An imbalance of of omega fatty acids has been found to cause abnormal secretions of the meibomian glands and contribute to MGD.  Ask your ophthalmologist for information regarding nutritional supplements to help treat this imbalance.

For more severe flare-ups, your eye physician may need to prescribe eyedrops and/or ointments to treat the blepharitis symptoms.  In some cases, oral medications such as Doxycycline may be prescribed as well.


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