Blepharitis is a chronic or long-term inflammation of the eyelids and eyelashes. It affects people of all ages. Among the most common causes of blepharitis are poor eyelid hygiene; excessive oil produced by the glands in the eyelid; a bacterial infection (often staphyloccal); or an allergic reaction.
Signs and symptoms that are associated with the chronic inflammation can be;
- Redness of the eyelids
- Flaking of skin on the lids
- Crusting at the lid margins, this is generally worse on waking
- Cysts at the lid margin
- Red eye
- Debris in the tear film, seen under magnification
- Gritty sensation of the eye
- Reduced vision
Some patients experience eye dryness, which can cause a certain degree of discomfort.
Blepharitis does not tend to cause problems with the patient’s vision, but due to a poor tear film, one may experience blurred vision.
Blepharitis that localizes in the skin of the eyelids may cause styes or chalazia, which appear like red bumps, sometimes with a yellow spot if infection is present.
The best treatment for blepharitis is a daily routine of lid margin hygiene. A typical lid margin hygiene routine consists of four steps:
- Softening of lid margin debris and oils: Apply a warm wet compress to the lids – such as a washcloth with hot water – for about two minutes. New, dry, warm compress masks can be conveniently warmed in a micro-wave oven and maintain a comfortable 40C temperature for 10 minutes while the waxy oils blocking the glands are cleared.
- Mechanical removal of lid margin debris: At the end of a shower routine, wash your face with a wash cloth. Use facial soap or non-burning baby shampoo (make sure to dilute the soap solution 1/10 with water first). Gently and repeatedly rub along the lid margins while eyes are closed. Too much soap or shampoo may remove the essential oily layer of the eyes’ own tear film and create further problems with dry eye discomfort.
- Antibiotic reduction of lid margin bacteria (at the discretion of your physician): After lid margin cleaning, spread small amount of prescription antibiotic ophthalmic ointment with finger tip along lid fissure while eyes closed. Use prior to bed time as opposed to in the morning to avoid blurry vision.
- Avoid the use of eye make-up until symptoms subside.
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