4 min

What isBlepharitis?

What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis (pronounced 'blef-uh-RYE-tis') is an inflammation at the edge of your eyelids, usually affecting both eyes. Blepharitis commonly occurs when the tiny oil glands at the base of your eyelashes become clogged, causing irritation and redness.

Blepharitis is often a chronic condition that's difficult to treat and uncomfortable. But it usually doesn't cause permanent damage and is not contagious.

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Symptoms of Blepharitis

Are typically worse in the morning

  • Watery eyes
  • Red eyes
  • A gritty, burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Eyelids that appear greasy
  • Itchy eyelids
  • Red, swollen eyelids
  • Flaking of the skin around the eyes
  • Crusted eyelashes
  • Eyelid sticking
  • More frequent blinking
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurred vision that usually improves with blinking
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“Blepharitis commonly occurs when tiny oil glands near the base of the eyelashes become clogged, causing irritation and redness. It's often a chronic condition that's difficult to treat...but it usually doesn't cause permanent damage to your eyesight, and it's not contagious.”

ALEX IONIDES, CONSULTANT OPHTHALMIC SURGEON AT MOORFIELDS EYE HOSPITAL, CO-FOUNDER AT MTHK.

Complications with Blepharitis
  • Dry eyes and excessive tearing can be caused by abnormal oily secretions or flaking dandruff from your eyelids.
  • An abnormal tear film, which interferes with keeping your eyelids moist. This can irritate your eyes and cause dry eyes or excess tearing symptoms.
  • Blepharitis can cause your eyelashes to fall out, grow abnormally (known as 'misdirected' eyelashes) or lose colour.
  • Scarring can develop on your eyelids from long-term blepharitis. Or the eyelid edges might turn inward or outward.
  • A stye is an infection that develops near the base of the eyelashes. Styes are usually most visible on the surface of the eyelid. The result is a painful lump on the edge of your eyelid.
  • A chalazion occurs when there's a blockage in the small oil glands on your eyelid, just behind the eyelashes. This blockage causes gland inflammation, which makes the eyelid swell and reddens. This can clear up or turn into a hard, non-tender bump.
  • Blepharitis can lead to recurrent bouts of pink eye (conjunctivitis).
  • Constant irritation from inflamed eyelids or misdirected eyelashes can cause a sore on your cornea. Not having enough tears could increase your risk of a corneal infection.
  • Diagnosing Blepharitis

    Tests and procedures used to diagnose blepharitis include:

    1. Examining your eyes. Your doctor might use a special magnifying instrument to examine your eyelids and eyes.
    2. Swabbing skin for testing. Sometimes, your doctor might use a swab to collect a sample of the oil or crust that forms on your eyelid. This sample can be analysed for bacteria, fungi or evidence of an allergy.
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    “If your symptoms don't seem to improve despite regular cleaning and care of the affected area - it may be worth seeing an ophthalmologist”

    ALEX IONIDES, CONSULTANT OPHTHALMIC SURGEON AT MOORFIELDS EYE HOSPITAL, CO-FOUNDER AT MTHK.

    Treating Blepharitis
  • Self-care measures, such as washing your eyes and using warm compresses, might be all that's needed for most cases of blepharitis. Preservative-free Eye Drops and Sprays can offer some relief.
  • Antibiotics applied to the eyelid have been shown to provide relief of symptoms and resolve bacterial infection of the eyelids. These are available in several forms, including eyedrops, creams and ointments. If you don't respond to topical antibiotics, your doctor might suggest an oral antibiotic.
  • Your doctor might prescribe antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs (including steroid eye drops or ointments) when patients don't respond to other therapies.
  • Topical cyclosporine may relieve some signs and symptoms of blepharitis.
  • Blepharitis caused by seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea or other diseases might be controlled by treating the underlying condition.
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