Blepharitis is a common condition of the eye whereby the eyelids are inflamed. This eyelid infection leads to itchy eyes, red and dry eyelids and crusty eyelashes.
Have you ever had your eyelids stuck together in the morning? There is a good chance you suffer from an eyelid infection or blepharitis. Your eyelids may be puffy and there can be a burning, stinging or soreness in your eyes. In severe cases, your eyelashes may fall out.
Regular eyelid hygiene
The best way to deal with this chronic condition is to keep the infected eyelids as clean as possible. With regular blepharitis treatment, symptoms can usually be eased and then kept to a minimum. At Richard Morwood Optometrist, we now have a special gadget for blepharitis treatment called Blephex. It looks a bit like an electric toothbrush but the head of it is a round, soft, sponge tip which is changed after each treatment of the eye.
Richard or Tim will numb your eyes with eye drops and then clean the inner and outer sides of your eyelids. You won’t really feel the treatment and afterwards your eyes feels super clean! It’s recommended to have the blepharitis treatment every 6 months but you can discuss this further with your optometrist. He may also advise artificial teardrops for dry eyes or an antibiotic treatment.
The traditional method is to press on the infected eyelids gently with a facecloth soaked in very warm water for 5-10 minutes. If the facecloth cools, keep re-warming it in the warm water. A popular alternative is to use a specially designed reusable heat bag which you place over your eyes for about five minutes. After this you massage your eyelids and then clean them with a cotton wool bud.
What causes blepharitis?
There are three main types of blepharitis:
anterior blepharitis – where the inflammation affects the skin around the base of your eyelashes
posterior blepharitis – where the inflammation affects your Meibomian glands, found along the eyelid margins behind the base of the eyelashes
mixed blepharitis – a combination of both anterior and posterior blepharitis
Anterior blepharitis can be caused by either:
a reaction to Staphylococcus bacteria – these usually live harmlessly on the skin of many people, but for unknown reasons they can cause the eyelids to become inflamed
seborrhoeic dermatitis – a skin condition that causes skin to become oily or flaky and sometimes irritate the eyelids, causing the Meibomian glands to block
Posterior blepharitis is caused by a problem with the Meibomian glands, where the glands get blocked by either debris, skin flakes or inflammation.
Sometimes blockages in the Meibomian glands are associated with a skin condition called rosacea. If too much oily substance is being produced, this may be caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis. Mixed blepharitis, which is the most common, is caused by a combination of both anterior and posterior blepharitis.
Blepharitis isn't contagious and very rarely affects your vision.
Watch a Blephex treatment
This blog was written by Laura Morwood with help from www.patient.info and the website from the College of Optometrists. The video was produced by Earlam & Christopher Optometrists and Opticians.