Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid and eyelash structures. It is a common eye condition that is typically caused by either a bacterial or skin condition such as dandruff of the scalp or acne rosacea. It can affect people of all ages and is not a contagious condition. Although uncomfortable and chronic, blepharitis usually does not cause permanent damage to an individual’s eyesight.
Blepharitis can be divided in to both an anterior and posterior form. The anterior form occurs along the front edge of eyelid, where the eyelashes are attached. The posterior form occurs along the inner edge of the eyelid that comes into contact with the eyeball. In a large portion of the population blepharitis tends to be a mix of the two.
Causes of Blepharitis:
The anterior form of blepharitis is most commonly caused by either bacteria (staphylococcal blepharitis) or dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows (seborrheic blepharitis). In rare incidences the anterior form can be caused by an allergic reaction or an infestation of mites.
The posterior form of blepharitis is typically caused by an irregular production of oils by the glands along the eyelid margin (meibomian blepharitis), which can produce a favorable environment for bacterial growth. Posterior blepharitis is also commonly associated with acne rosacea and dandruff of the scalp.
Symptoms of Blepharitis:
Individuals with blepharitis may experience:
- Crusting or scaling of the eyelashes
- Red and swollen eyelids
- A gritty or sandy feeling
- Itching or burning
- Dry eye
- In serious cases individuals may note blurring of vision, loss or misdirected eyelashes, styes, and inflammation to other structures of the eye including the cornea and the conjunctiva.
Blepharitis is a chronic condition therefore treatment is an ongoing process (similar to treating acne).
The main treatments for blepharitis include a warm compress for several minutes (5-10) followed by a gentle lid massage. This will help to both loosen crusts along the eyelashes and open the glands along the eyelid to better express stagnate oils to allow bacterial growth.
Your eye doctor may also recommend the use of special eyelid cleansers, lubricating eye drops, oral supplements, antibiotic drops, anti-inflammatory drops, or even oral antibiotics in more severe or complicated cases.
The best way to diagnose and manage blepharitis is through a comprehensive eye exam where a doctor can better evaluate an individual’s history, eyelids, and other eye structures.
To learn more about blepharitis and proper eye health, please contact board certified ophthalmologist Dr. Samuel Boles and the eye care specialists at Anne Arundel Eye Center by calling 410-224-2010. Located in Annapolis, Maryland, the Anne Arundel Eye Center offers comprehensive specialized ophthalmic exams as well as diagnostic pre- and post-surgical eye care.
For more eye care advice and information, please take a look at our previous blog posts.
Blepharitis PubMed Health