What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is when the rims of the eyelids become inflamed. This can make your eyes red, irritated and itchy. Dandruff-like crusts can appear on your eyelashes. At Zacks Eye Clinic, our optometrists can provide advice on managing and treating blepharitis.
Anterior Blepharitis, affecting the skin around the eye lashes can be caused by bacterial infection or can be a complication of skin conditions such as seborrhoeic dermatitis, which causes itchy rashes on the skin and scalp (dandruff). Another common associated skin condition is rosacea, which causes the face to appear red and blotchy.
Posterior Blepharitis affecting the Meibomian glands located behind the lashes can cause evaporative dry eye. The oil secreting glands located in the eye lids become blocked or abnormal (Meibomian gland dysfunction). The oily tear layer breaks down allowing the watery tears to evaporate.
Blepharitis is a chronic condition, meaning that once it develops you’ll probably have repeated episodes. There is no cure. However, there are a range of treatments that can control the symptoms. The most important one is to establish a daily eye-cleaning routine.
Long term regular lid hygiene is crucial in managing blepharitis and reducing inflammation and dryness from evaporation. A regime of warm compresses, followed by massage and cleansing is usually recommended once or twice a day depending on severity.
- Warm compresses – loosens debris on the eye lids and melts the oils blocking the glands, making them easier to express and clean.
A compress heated to warm bath temperature (Not too hot) should be held against closed eyes for 5 minutes. At Zacks London Eye Clinic we stock a variety of eye masks which, when heated in the microwave for around 20 seconds, hold the heat for up to 20 minutes.
- Lid massage – helps improve meibomian gland function.
Gently rotate a clean finger down the top lid and up the bottom lid, expressing oil from the meibomian glands along the length of each lid.
- Lid cleansing – removing debris reduces inflammation.
Gently clean along the lid margin and remove any debris from the lashes and glands using disposable eye lid wipes. At Zacks London Eye Clinic we stock Ocusoft Plus wipes, which are recommended for moderate to severe eyelid conditions and are very effective at killing bacteria and mites that cause infestation on the lid margin.
More severe cases of blepharitis may require the use of antibiotics. It is estimated that blepharitis is responsible for 10% of all eye problems that are reported. It is more common in older adults, but can develop at any age. Other complications of blepharitis include styes (a pus-filled swelling in or on the eyelid) and conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eye).
The condition is not normally serious. Serious complications such as sight loss are rare, especially when you follow the recommended advice.