What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is an inflammatory disease of the eyelids that is caused by the overgrowth of regular bacteria. This chronic disease occurs when the bacteria live along the eyelid and the base of the eyelashes. Almost anyone can develop blepharitis indiscriminate of age, but the probability of developing it increases with age.
This overgrowth of bacteria creates a biofilm that traps crust and dirt along the eyelashes and holds bacterial exotoxins alongside the lid margin. These exotoxins infiltrate the eyelid tissue, leading to low-grade inflammation, which negatively influences the tear glands, lowering tear production. This allows even more bacteria to collect and a cycle of dry eye symptoms and chronic irritation is established.
How Does it Affect the Eye?
The condition occurs when the oil glands in the eyelids at the base of the eyelashes become clogged, which leads to redness and irritation of the eyes. Blepharitis is not contagious, nor does it cause damage to eyesight, however, it can be rather unsightly and uncomfortable for the person experiencing it. If left untreated the oil producing glands and eyelids can become permanently damaged.
The base of the eyelashes become coated in oily particles as well as bacteria, which causes itchiness, irritation, stinging, redness, or burning in the eyes. The main cause of blepharitis is not understood, but it occurs because of certain dry eye symptoms, bacterial eye infection, or the onset of certain skin conditions (for example acne rosacea).
What are the Symptoms?
- a foreign body sensation (gritty or sandy feeling)
- sensitivity to light
- excessive tearing
- swollen and red eyelids
- redness in the eye
- dry eye
- crusting of eyelashes on awakening
- frothy tears
What are the Risk Factors for Developing Blepharitis?
This condition is known to frequently occur in people with dandruff, dry eyes, or oily skin. It can also occur in people with allergies, eyelash mites, rosacea, or seborrheic dermatitis.
How is this Condition Treated?
Both forms of blepharitis can be treated by maintaining eyelid hygiene, in other words, keeping the lids clean and free of crusts.
Hot or Warm Compresses for 15-20 min:
This is best done with an eyelid heat mask such as a Bruder Mask or Therapearl Eye Mask
Using specially formulated lid wipes found at most optometrists’ offices or pharmacies
Rinse Eye Lids Well:
Making it a habit to rinse your eyes and clean them well (ex: thoroughly removing eye make-up) can help with lessening the symptoms from progressing.
In more persistent cases, our optometrists can harmlessly clean your lashes and eyelids with a treatment called BlephEx. This treatment can almost immediately correct your symptoms by removing the exotoxin biofilm alongside the lid margin.
Since it is common for blepharitis to reoccur, a routine for eyelid hygiene must be maintained for an extended period of time. In more severe cases, one of our optometrists may also prescribe steroid eye drops or antibiotics in addition to the in-office BlephEx treatment.