All About Blepharitis
Blepharitis is an inflammation of your eyelids. It can make eyelids red and eyelashes crusty and make your eyes feel irritated or itchy.
It can also lead to burning, soreness or stinging in your eyes. In severe cases, your lashes may fall out and you can develop small ulcers or styes as well. You may find your eyelids become puffy. The symptoms tend to be worse in the morning and when you wake up you may find your lids are stuck together.
Blepharitis is a chronic (long-term) condition. This means that once you have had it, it can come back even after it has cleared up. It normally affects both eyes. You can usually treat it by keeping your eyelids clean. You may need to do this for several months.
Why do I get blepharitis?
Generally it is caused by staphylococcus bacteria. A problem with your oil glands (meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD) or inflamed skin (seborrheic dermatitis).
Who is at risk of blepharitis?
Blepharitis is more common in people aged over 50. But it can develop at any age. As you get older, the glands in your eyelids that secrete part of your tears become blocked more easily. Your tears contain fewer lubricants and your eyes can feel gritty and dry. Therefore seborrhoeic blepharitis and MGD tend to happen more in older people. Increasing evidence points toward Demodex (eye mites that inhabit your eyelashes) as a cause of Blepharitis after the age of 60 with 100% of the population affected by Demodex after the age of 70.
FACT: 80% of dry eye cases have some type of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (not enough oil in the tear film) and inflammation (Blepharitis).
How will I know I have blepharitis?
We can spot the signs of blepharitis by looking closely at your eyelids.
How should I look after my eyes if I have blepharitis?
It is possible to make your eyes more comfortable, but blepharitis often cannot be totally cured.
Warm compresses work by warming the material that blocks the glands and loosening the crusts on the eyelid. This makes them easier to remove. You can buy reusable warming packs which you heat up in the microwave. Or you can use a flannel, cotton wool ball or something similar as a warm compress. Soak the compress in hot, but not boiling water (or heat it in the microwave if you are using a reusable one). Then place it on the edge of your closed eyelids for five minutes, rocking it gently. This will loosen the crusts. You can then clean your lids. You should use a separate clean compress for each eye.
What should I use?
Pre-moistened daily eyelid wipes tend to be the most easy and effective way to treat your Blepharitis, such as Blephaclean Wipes. They are impregnated with a gentle solution free from preservatives, parabens, soaps and perfumes. These will treat your condition whilst respecting the skin around your eye. Twice daily treatment has been shown to improve symptoms after 21 days. In addition for those patients who are suspected of having a Demodex infestation, wipes containing Terpinen-4-ol, a purified active extract from Tea Tree Oil has been shown to treat Demodex such as Blephademodex Wipes. Please ask the team at Focus for more information on which treatment is most relevant to you.
If warm compresses and cleaning your eyelids do not work, your doctor or prescribing optometrist may prescribe you antibiotic ointment or tablets. Your prescriber will tell you how long to use these for, but if you need to take antibiotic tablets you may need to take these for several weeks or months. Your doctor or prescribing optometrist will discuss with you whether they are suitable for you. The benefits may last for some months after you finish the treatment.
If you have any concerns about the health of your eyes, please contact the team at Focus Medical Eye Centre. Optometrists are the eye-health specialists in the community.