Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelids. It causes sore, red eyelids and crusty debris at the base of the eyelashes due to clogged oil glands in the area. A chronic condition, it’s challenging to treat – but not impossible.
Blepharitis develops due to bacterial growth and inflammation in the oil glands along the eyelid margins. It tends to be associated with other conditions, including seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff and rosacea. Some of the more common signs and symptoms include:
- ITCHY, RED OR BURNING EYES
- REDNESS AND CRUSTING AROUND THE EYELID MARGINS
- A GRITTY, BURNING OR STINGING SENSATION
- SENSITIVITY TO LIGHT
- FREQUENT STYLES (infected oil glands along the edge of the eyelid)
- EYELASHES THAT FALL OUT OR GROW ABNORMALLY
- WATERY EYES
If left untreated, blepharitis can cause a number of complications. Some patients experience excessive tearing, dry eyes, difficulty wearing contact lenses and chronic pink eye infections. In addition, injury of the cornea may occur due to the combination of constant irritation, inflammation, insufficient tearing and misdirected eyelashes. As such, it’s important to consult an experienced eye doctor as soon as you notice symptoms that are associated with blepharitis, so you can take steps to proactively manage the condition, keep symptoms at bay and prevent complications from developing.
TREATMENT OPTIONS As a chronic condition, there is no cure for blepharitis. As such, treatment involves managing the condition and alleviating some of the symptoms. The most common treatment options Dr. Benjamin recommends to his patients include:
HOT COMPRESSES Hot compresses can be very effective in offering relief from blepharitis symptoms. Simply run a washcloth under hot water and hold it over your eyes for about five minutes, two to three times daily.
EYELID SCRUBS After applying your hot compress, moisten a Q-tip in a solution of a few drops of baby shampoo mixed with a large glass of warm water. Pull down on the lower eyelid and look up, before rubbing the Q-tip over the lashes for approximately 30 seconds. Repeat with your upper eyelids, but look down. Looking away from the lashes during this process will lessen the likelihood that you accidentally rub your eye. Once the scrub is complete, rinse your eyelids with clear water. Repeat this process at bedtime every four to six weeks.
ANTIBIOTIC OINTMENT In some cases, Dr. Benjamin will recommend applying antibiotic ointment to both eyes after your scrubs. Blurred vision may occur when applying these ointments, so it’s best to use them at night.
ORAL ANTIBIOTICS If you have a severe case of blepharitis, Dr. Benjamin may recommend oral antibiotics to manage the condition.
PREVENTION It is possible to prevent blepharitis by practicing proper eyelid hygiene. This includes keeping your eyelids clean, removing eye makeup at bedtime and avoiding applying eyeliner along the inside of your eyelids. If you already have blepharitis and are attempting to treat it, we recommend avoiding eye makeup altogether until you’ve gotten the condition under control.