The General Ophthalmology Service and the Cornea and External Diseases Service at Scheie are adept at treating blepharitis and associated conditions such as dry eye and offer the latest treatments to manage the condition.
What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is the persistent inflammation of the eyelids. The membrane covering the eyelid and eyeball (conjunctiva) can also become inflamed. Blepharitis is a common condition and often occurs in otherwise healthy people.
Cause of Blepharitis
The exact cause of blepharitis is not known. However, it appears to be caused by an abnormality in the oil producing glands on the margin of the eyelids. Abnormal bacteria proliferating in and around these glands may contribute to the condition. These oil-producing glands are known as meibomian glands - hence another name for this condition is meibomitis. Blepharitis also seems to be more common in people who have oily skin, dandruff, and dry eyes. Blepharitis is extremely common in people with rosacea.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
The inflammation of the eyelids can cause the following persistent symptoms:
- Irritation and itching
- Red eye
- Dandruff-like scales and particles along the eyelashes and eyelid margins
- Swelling and tenderness of the eyelids
Treatment of Blepharitis
- Cleansing Routine
Once your eye doctor has diagnosed blepharitis, the most important treatment to control blepharitis is a daily cleansing routine for the eyelids. Daily cleansing routines are performed 1-2 times a day and require the use of warm compresses to soften crusts and loosen debris, or use of a mild soap (such as mild baby shampoo or prepared eye cleansing solution) to thoroughly clean the eyelids. The eyelids are then thoroughly rinsed and patted dry.
- Use of Artificial Tears
Using artificial tears can also be helpful. The artificial tears not only soothe the eye but probably dilute or wash away the toxic (and irritative) byproducts of the bacteria.
- Use of Medications
The ophthalmologist may prescribe medications to control associated bacterial infections, or to relieve redness, swelling, or irritation. Cleaning routines must still be used even if medication has been prescribed.
Long Term Prognosis of Blepharitis
Blepharitis cannot always be cured, but it can be controlled, using those methods described above. Most people will experience a waxing and waning of this condition - the condition may worsen for a few months than suddenly improve or disappear. Changes in the climate can often trigger changes in blepharitis (for better or worse). Medication, particularly antibiotics, may not cure the underlying disease but only provide temporary relief. Blepharitis rarely threatens the eye itself or causes permanent loss of vision.