Blepharitis or Eyelid Inflammation
Although blepharitis itself is harmless, it could develop in association with an underlying condition. Learn about the various causes and types of blepharitis and what you can do to treat it.
Affecting all ages, Blepharitis is a non-contagious and common eye disorder that is caused by bacterial or skin conditions. It involves the inflammation of the eyelash follicles, along the edge of the eyelid, forming dandruff-like scales on the eyelashes. Even though most experts treat Blepharitis as a very serious condition, it isn’t known to cause any permanent damage to ones eyesight. Eye care professionals usually become aware of the condition during comprehensive eye examinations.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
There are many different symptoms you can look for to find out if you have Blepharitis or eyelid inflammation. Some of these symptoms are more severe than others, and sometimes a person won’t experience any of these symptoms at all. The most common symptoms include:
- Excessive Tearing
- Dry Eyes
- Blurring of Vision
- Inflammation of the cornea, and other eye tissues
- Loss of Eyelashes
- Gritty Sensation When Blinking
Types of Blepharitis
There are two types of Blepharitis; Anterior Blepharitis and Posterior Blepharitis. We will go over the differences of each, as well as what causes them.
Anterior Blepharitis – This type affects the outside front edge of the eyelid, where the eyelashes connect to the eyelid and is usually caused by bacteria (staphylococcal blepharits) or dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows (seborrheic blepharitis). Less commonly it could be due to allergies or an infestation of the eyelashes.
Treatment for Blepharitis
Depending on which type you may have, there are various different methods to treat this condition. The most common treatment method, regardless of which type you have, is keeping your eyelids clean and free of crust. Other treatments include:
- Warm compresses to loosen or soften hard crusty substances
- If glands are blocked, eyelid massages are done to clean out oil accumulated in the eyelid glands
- Artificial tears
- Lubricating ointments
- Use of anti-dandruff shampoo/conditioner
- Reducing time spent wearing eye make-up/cosmetics
- Discontinued use of contact lenses until condition clears up
- Upgrading personal hygiene
Occasionally some cases of Blepharitis require more complex treatment plans. Blepharitis rarely disappears completely, and even with successful treatment, relapses may occur. However, the likely outcome is good with treatment, if treatment is done within a reasonable amount of time, after symptoms first begin. Also, keep in mind, that before you can treat Blepharitis, you must treat the underlying condition or problem which is causing Blepharitis. Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms worsen or do not improve after careful cleansing of the eyelids for several days.
As a reminder, it’s extremely important that you see your eye doctor at least once a year. If you don’t have any symptoms (some do not) an eye exam is a great opportunity for you and your doctor to find out if anything is wrong, or if you have a condition such as Blepharitis.
- J. DiGirolamo, MD “The Big Book of Family Eye Care” (Basic Health Publications, 2011) 196
- S. Moore, MD; K. Yoder, MD “Complete Guide to Symptoms, Illness & Surgery” Revised 5th edition (The Berkeley Publishing Group, 2006) 179