What is Blepharitis?
A very common eye disorder, blepharitis is a condition affecting the eyelids and eyelashes. Causes can range from a bacterial infection (staphylococcal blepharitis) to allergies, lice and/or abnormal fat production in the eyelids (seborrheic blepharitis).
The swelling and inflammation at the edges of the eyelids can cause one or more of the following symptoms:
- Dandruff-like flaking
- Crusty layer of dried discharge
- Swelling and puffiness redness (bloodshot eyes and eyelids)
- Irritation (discomfort)
- Grainy/coarse sensation under the eyelid (foreign body sensation)
Blepharitis is diagnosed by a slit lamp (microscope) examination in the eye doctor’s office.
Using a non-irritating topical antibiotic and/or a reduced-strength corticosteroid are effective treatments for most cases.
Good hygiene practices such as frequent cleansing of the eyelids with a clean washcloth, warm water and, in some cases, mild soap (baby shampoo, no tears formula) can prevent the build-up of bacteria and remove the crusty discharge.
Hypoallergenic sterile lid cleansers can be purchased in the eye care section of your pharmacy or drugstore. A more powerful scrub may be prescribed if simple cleansing does not help.
Coating the eyelashes with ointment to suffocate the larvae can treat blepharitis that is caused by lice.
Ineffective treatment or lack of treatment for blepharitis may lead to the development of an abscess within the eyelid called a stye, or a firm nodule called a chalazion.