Blepharitis is the inflammation of a person’s eyelids and is caused by the obstruction of the oil glands of the eyelid, known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. For many the inflammation can cause dandruff-like scaling of the skin near the base of a person’s eyelashes. It is often in association with dandruff-like scaling of the skin at the base of the eyelashes. Blepharitis can cause discomfort, eye redness, and can contribute to what many would refer to as “dry eye”.
Blepharitis signs and symptoms are typically worse in the morning and include:
- Irritation, itching, or burning of the skin at the edge of the eyelids
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- Eyelids that appear greasy
- Swollen eyelids
- Flaking of the skin around the eyes
- Crusted eyelashes
- Eyelid sticking
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision that usually improves with blinking
What Causes Blepharitis
While the exact cause of blepharitis is not clear, it can spread to another person. It can also be associated with one or more of the following:
- Seborrheic dermatitis – dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows
- Eyelash Mites
- Dry Eyes
Other Complications of Blepharitis
- Eyelash problems – Blepharitis can cause your eyelashes to fall out, grow misdirected eyelashes, or lose color.
- Sty – A sty is an infection that develops near the base of the eyelashes. The result is a painful lump on the edge of your eyelid.
- Excess tearing or dry eyes – Abnormal oily secretions and other debris shed from the eyelids, such as flaking associated with dandruff, can build up in your tear film — the water, oil and mucus solution that forms tears.
Abnormal tear film interferes with keeping your eyelids moist. This can irritate your eyes and cause symptoms of dry eyes or excess tearing.
- Eyelid skin problems – Scarring can develop on your eyelids from long-term blepharitis. Or the eyelid edges might turn inward or outward.
- Chronic pink eye – Blepharitis can lead to recurrent bouts of pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis.
- Injury to the cornea – Constant irritation from inflamed eyelids or misdirected eyelashes can cause a sore to develop on your cornea. Not having enough tears could increase your risk of a corneal infection.
Understanding how to treat blepharitis will be an important step to take with your optometrist after diagnosis. Typically for the best results, treatment would include both home and medical.
At our Dry Eye & Ocular Surface Disease Clinic, our medical team will work with you and your symptoms to create the best treatment plan. Sometimes, severe cases of blepharitis may require antibiotics, either topical or oral. Our doctor and associates can carry out the following in-house medical treatments for blepharitis at our Dry Eye & Ocular Surface Disease Clinic:
Lipiflow – Thermal Pulsation Treatment: This melts any material that is obstructing the Meibomian glands.
Intense pulse light therapy (IPL): This can open clogged eyelid glands.
In addition to our in-office treatments, we will create a personalized treatment plan potentially including at home treatment regimens that include:
- Warm compresses – to loosen crusts
- Lid cleansing – to remove crusts
- Massage – to express the small oil glands of the eyelids
- Supplements – Omega 3 Fatty Acids
In addition to home treatment, people with the eyelid inflammation should avoid using cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara, and other makeup around the eyes.
Eyelid hygiene is important for treating blepharitis. It should be continued even when symptoms have improved. Blepharitis cannot be cured, but treatment can successfully manage symptoms. For more information on blepharitis, treatment, contact us today at the Dry Eye & Ocular Surface Disease Clinic at Vision Source Specialists.