What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common and persistent inflammation of the eyelids. Symptoms include irritation, itching, soreness and redness.
This condition frequently occurs in people who have a tendency towards oily skin, dandruff or dry eyes. Blepharitis can begin in early childhood, producing granulated eyelids and continue throughout life as chronic. It could also develop later in life.
For some people the scales or bacteria associated with Blepharitis produce only minor irritation and itching, but in others they may cause redness, stinging or burning. Some people may develop an allergy to the scales or to the bacteria which surround the eyes. This can lead to a more serious complication like inflammation of the eye tissues, particularly the cornea (the clear ‘front window’ of the eye). Chronic, low-grade inflammation can be associated with dryness, especially in older people.
How is Blepharitis treated?
Blepharitis is a condition that might not be cured, but it can be controlled with a few simple daily measures:
At least twice a day, wet a washcloth with comfortably warm water, wring it out and place over the closed eyelids for a minute. Wet the cloth again as it cools, two or three times .This will soften and loosen scales and debris.
More importantly, it helps liquify the oily secretions from the eyelids’ oily gland. With your finger covered by a thin washcloth, cotton swab or commercial lint-free pad, gently scrub the base of the lashes about 15 seconds per lid.
If an antibiotic ointment has been prescribed, apply a dab at the base of the lashes (usually at bedtime), using your fingertip or a cotton swab. Simple, daily hygienic measures will minimize the following additional medications that might be needed to control Blepharitis and its symptoms:
- Artificial tears may be used to relieve symptoms of dry eye. (These are eye drops that are available without a prescription)
- Steroids may be used short-term to decrease inflammation.
- Antibiotics may be used to decrease the bacterial content of the eyelids. If the inflammation is severe, sometimes long-term tetracycline (by mouth) is used, especially for people who have a skin condition called Rosacea.
Medications alone are not sufficient. The application of warmth and daily detailed cleansing of the lashes is the key to controlling Blepharitis.