What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a medical condition that relates to the inflammation of the eyelids and eyelashes. Blepharitis is usually caused by an excess growth of bacteria ordinarily found on the skin, blockage of oil glands found on the eyelid margin and occasionally allergies. Blepharitis is a very common condition that causes the eyelids to be itchy, red, irritated and flaky or scaly at the eyelashes. This disease is categorized as either anterior or posterior blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis affects the front of the eyelids around the base of the eyelashes. Staphylococcal and seborrheic blepharitis are the two types that can arise from anterior blepharitis. Staphylococcal blepharitis is an infection of the anterior portion of the eyelid by staphylococcal bacteria. Patients usually feel a foreign body sensation, matting of the lashes and burning.
This condition can sometimes lead to a chalazion or stye as well as madarosis in serious situations. Without treatment, it may cause long-term effects like ectropion, thickened lid margins, mild sticking of lids, telangiectasia, trichiasis and entropion. If trichiasis and entropion are apparent then the cornea can acquire erosion from the rubbing of the lashes, which can cause a decrease in vision. Staphylococcal blepharitis may start in childhood and continue through adulthood. This is usually recurrent and requires special medical treatment. The treatment is antibiotics for at least 4 to 6 weeks to completely cure the infection, but a topical steroid is given as well to control the inflammation.
This infection is treated effectively when the patient is compliant with proper eyelid hygiene. Seborrheic blepharitis is associated with the skin condition seborrheic dermatitis. In this condition the affected skin on the eyelids becomes more oily and scaly. The lashes on the eyelid usually have a sleeve of scales along the whole lash. This is a common sign for this type of blepharitis. Seborrheic blepharitis is more prominent in the elder population and is treated more through eyelid hygiene. Posterior blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids secondary to dysfunction of the meibomian glands. It is a bilateral chronic condition that causes lid inflammation and plugging of the meibomian orifices and production of abnormal secretion upon pressure over the glands. This blepharitis is associated with acne rosacea and can be apparent from demodex mites.
Symptoms of Blepahritis
The symptoms of blepharitis include:
- Foreign body sensation
- Burning of the eye
- Sensitivity to light
- Red and swollen eyes or eyelids
- Blurry vision
- Dry eyes
- Crusting of the eyelashes
What is the Treatment
Blepharitis is an incurable disease, but it can be managed and controlled with the proper treatment or eyelid hygiene. If it is not treated then blepharitis can lead to many serious conditions like scarring or damage to eye tissue. Individuals with blepharitis can take the following steps to help treat this condition:
- Take a clean washcloth and wet it in very warm water. Place it over the closed eyelids for five minutes. Re-wet as necessary to maintain desired temperature. This will help to soften crusts and loosen oily debris.
- Place the warm, wet washcloth over the index finger and apply a diluted solution of 50% baby shampoo or mild soap.
- Cleanse one eye at a time, closing the eye you are cleansing, and rubbing the washcloth or your finger over the eyelashes and lid margins several times using horizontal strokes.
- Rinse thoroughly with a clean, warm, wet washcloth, then pat dry.
- LipiFlow is a procedure that gently heats up clogged oil glands so it can secrete the oil layer of the tear film successfully. This is done for people who have plugged up meibomian glands.
- Steroids or antibiotics are other treatment alternative used for blepharitis when other methods failed or in severe cases.