Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Blepharitis is a condition where the rims of the eyelids become inflamed. This can cause your eyes to become red, irritated and itchy. Dandruff-like crusts can also appear on your eyelashes.
Blepharitis has two basic forms:
Posterior blepharitis, linked to dysfunction of meibomian glands within the eyelids that secrete oils to help lubricate the eye.
Anterior blepharitis, affecting the outside front of the eyelid where eyelashes are attached.
Blepharitis can be caused by bacterial infection or may occur as a complication of skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis. This is a skin condition that can cause itchy rashes on the skin and scalp. When seborrheic dermatitis affects the scalp it is commonly called dandruff. Another associated skin condition is Rosacea which causes the face to appear red and blotchy.
It occurs when the tear-secreting glands (lacrimal glands) in the eyelid cannot discharge their materials onto the eyeball surface correctly. The secretions get clogged up and collect on the eyelashes, causing chronic red, irritated eyes and, when severe, low-grade chronic infections of the eyelid. The toxins from the bacteria from these low-grade infections can irritate the corneal surface. This is seen by the doctor as small punctate staining along the cornea/eyelid interface.
Blepharitis is responsible for an estimated 1 in 20 eye problems reported to GPs and Ophthalmology. It can develop at any age and more common in females. Up to half of people whose blepharitis is caused by Staphylococcus bacteria also have dry eye syndrome (a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears or dry out too quickly).
Symptoms may include:
A burning sensation in the eyes.
A gritty/sandy sensation in the eyes.
Eyelashes may grow abnormally (misdirected).
Eyelids appear greasy.
Eyelids may stick together when waking up after sleep.
Flaky skin around the eyes.
Loss of eyelashes.
Photophobia - sensitivity to light.
Red, sore and itchy eyelids.
Tests and procedures used to diagnose blepharitis include:
Swabbing skin for testing. In certain cases, your doctor may use a swab to collect a sample of the oil or crust that forms on your eyelid. This sample can be analyzed for bacteria, fungi or evidence of an Allergy.
Examining your eyelids. An eye specialist will carefully examine your eyelids and your eyes. He/she may use a special magnifying instrument during the examination.
Blepharitis is a chronic (long-term) condition. Most people experience repeated episodes followed by periods with no symptoms. Blepharitis cannot be cured, but symptoms can be effectively controlled with good eye hygiene. You will need to continue this eye hygiene programme indefinitely.
Developing a regular routine of eye hygiene is essential for the effective treatment of blepharitis. It is important to clean your eyelids every day, whether or not you have any symptoms. Make it part of your daily routine, like showering or brushing your teeth.
Effective eye hygiene will help reduce the severity and frequency of your symptoms. Follow the steps below to keep your eyes clean:
Gently rub the compress over your closed eyelids for two to three minutes, then repeat. This will help loosen any crusting.
Use a cloth or cotton bud with warm water and a small amount of cleaning solution (see below), and gently rub the edge of your eyelids to clean them.
Always use a mirror when cleaning your eyelids to prevent any possible damage to your eyes.
Carry out these steps twice a day at first, then once a day when your symptoms have improved.
Do not wear eye make-up, particularly eyeliner and mascara, as this can make your symptoms worse. If you have to wear eyeliner, make sure that it washes off easily.
Apply a warm compress (a cloth or cotton wool warmed with hot water) to your closed eyelids for five to ten minutes.
If you have blepharitis that does not respond to regular cleaning, you may be prescribed a course of antibiotic ointments or creams (topical antibiotics). You will need to use these for four to six weeks. You may be prescribed:
Chloramphenicol eye ointment (Chloromycetin sodium succinate, Diochloram).
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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