Blepharitis is a common condition that affects the eyelids, causing inflammation, redness, and irritation. People with blepharitis may also have crusty flakes resembling dandruff at the base of their eyelashes. This condition can be chronic and recurrent, with symptoms affecting a person’s quality of life if left untreated. It can affect one of both eyes and occur at any age, although it is more common in older adults.
Blepharitis can be caused by bacterial or viral infections, allergies, or other underlying health conditions. You can be more susceptible to developing blepharitis if you have oily skin or specific skin disorders, such as rosacea. Despite being persistent, it is not infectious and does not usually harm the eyes permanently. Cleaning your eyelids frequently and preventing crust formation is the main treatment for managing blepharitis symptoms.
What are the types of blepharitis?
There are two types of blepharitis, depending on where it occurs on your eyelids. You might have one type or both types simultaneously.
- Anterior blepharitis: This type is found on the outside of the eyelid, where the eyelashes attach. Usually, skin microorganisms or dandruff from the scalp or eyebrows are to blame. Although uncommon, allergies or mites can also induce anterior blepharitis.
- Posterior blepharitis: This type is found on the inside of the eyelid, close to the eyeball. It develops when the oil glands in your eyelids become obstructed and can be caused by common skin disorders like rosacea and scalp dandruff.
What are the symptoms of blepharitis?
Blepharitis symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some common symptoms of blepharitis include:
- Red, swollen, and itchy eyelids
- Burning sensation in the eyes
- Excessive tearing or dry eyes
- Crusty or greasy eyelids
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision that gets better with blinking
What are the causes of blepharitis?
The exact cause of blepharitis is unknown. However, several factors may contribute to the condition, such as:
- Bacterial infection: Bacteria on the eyelid tissue can infect the area, resulting in inflammation and irritation.
- Skin conditions: Conditions such as rosacea and eczema can induce blepharitis.
- Allergies: Pollen, dust, and other allergens can trigger allergic responses that irritate and inflame the eyelids.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: This condition results in oily, flaky skin on the scalp, cheeks, and other areas of the body.
- Meibomian gland dysfunction: The meibomian glands are in charge of producing the oil that keeps the eyes lubricated. Dry eyes and inflammation of the eyelids can result from these organs not functioning properly.
What are the complications of blepharitis?
Blepharitis can lead to several complications if left untreated. Some of the most common complications include:
- Eyelash issues: Your eyelashes may fall out, grow incorrectly (misdirected eyelashes), or lose color as a result of blepharitis.
- Eyelid skin issues: Your eyelids may become scarred as a result of chronic blepharitis. The edges of the eyelids could also turn inward or outward.
- Stye: An eyelid-forming stye is a painful lump. It can be a complication of blepharitis and is brought on by a bacterial infection.
- Chalazion: A chalazion is a lump that develops on the eyelid without discomfort. It can result from blepharitis and is brought on by a blockage in the oil glands of the eyelid.
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye): An inflammation of the thin membrane surrounding the white part of the eye can cause conjunctivitis. It can be a complication of blepharitis that is brought on by a bacterial or viral infection.
How is blepharitis diagnosed?
Your eye doctor can perform a physical eye examination to look for blepharitis. The doctor will examine your eyelids, lashes, and eyes to determine the extent and severity of the condition. In some cases, your doctor may take a sample of the crust or oil that develops on your eyelid using a swab to check for bacteria, fungi, or allergic symptoms.
How is blepharitis treated?
Blepharitis can be managed with a combination of treatments, depending on the severity and underlying cause of the condition. Common treatment options that can help you enhance your quality of life and avoid complications include:
- Warm compresses: Applying warm compresses to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and break up any crusts that have formed on the eyelids.
- Eyelid hygiene: Maintaining good eyelid hygiene can help avoid bacteria buildup and minimize inflammation. Your eye specialist might advise cleaning your eyelids with mild soap or a commercial eyelid cleanser.
- Medications: Your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointments to lessen bacterial development, inflammation, and redness, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
- Omega-3 supplements: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce blepharitis symptoms. Your doctor might recommend taking omega-3 supplements or increasing your intake of foods rich in omega-3s. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish like salmon and sardines, but you may also get fish oil pills from the pharmacy.
Make an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as you notice any blepharitis symptoms to ensure a proper diagnosis and course of treatment. Most blepharitis sufferers can control their symptoms and avoid problems with the right care.
How is blepharitis prevented?
Preventing blepharitis involves keeping your eyelids clean, avoiding factors that can trigger the condition, and seeking prompt medical attention if you start to experience symptoms. Some tips for preventing blepharitis include:
- Wash your hands frequently to stop the spread of bacteria.
- Refrain from touching or rubbing your eyes.
- Avoid wearing eye makeup or use non-toxic and hypoallergenic makeup products.
- Keep your contact lenses clean, and don’t wear them if your eyes are infected or inflamed.
- Get routine eye exams to monitor your eye health and detect any signs of blepharitis or other eye conditions.
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If you suspect you may have blepharitis, contact one of our expert ophthalmologists by calling toll-free 8006686 or clicking the chat icon at the bottom of the screen to manage the condition effectively and maintain proper eyelid hygiene.