What Is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is one of the most common eye conditions observed by Envision Optical optometrists. It is an inflammation/infection of the edges of the eyelids, and while rarely serious, can cause chronic discomfort and irritation. You will commonly experience dry, sore, red, burning eyes. The disruption to the tear film and ocular surface will commonly cause fluctuations and blurred vision. You will usually notice crusty debris around your eyelashes.
What Causes It?
Blepharitis is most commonly associated with mild chronic bacterial infections of the skin caused by naturally occurring skin bacteria. It can also be common in various inflammatory and allergic skin conditions such as acne rosacea. Allergic reactions to cosmetics can cause acute swelling of the eyelids. There are three main types of blepharitis:
- Infective blepharitis: caused by staphylococcal bacteria, which is normally found on the skin of the eyelids. Reduced immune function allows the staph to cause an infection in the eyelids and base of the eyelashes resulting in crusty deposit around the lashes and sticky tears.
- Seborrheic blepharitis: associated with overactive oil glands in the skin. Causes oily deposits to from along the eyelids. People with seborrheic blepharitis also often have dandruff, asthma, hayfever, allergies or acne rosacea.
- Meibomian Gland Dysfunction: The meibomian glands are found on the inside edge of the eyelids behind the eyelashes and are responsible for secreting an oily compound that forms a natural part of our tear film. If the glands are not functioning properly, they will start secreting a thicker oil and become clogged, causing the eyelids to become inflamed and susceptible to infection.
How Do We Assess It?
Your Envision Optical optometrist will use our slit lamp biomicroscopes to carefully examine the anterior surface of the eyes and eyelids as part of our routine examination. This will help determine the type of blepharitis you are suffering from and then the right treatment plan can be prescribed.
Blepharitis is usually a chronic condition requiring long-term ongoing maintenance. A daily simple care regime is required to prevent or reduce the severity of future episodes. Treatment should include:
- Applying warm compresses to the eyelids daily (using a clean washcloth soaked in hot water). This will soften the sticky, crusty material along the eyelids.
- Lid cleaning is the next step and is best done using Lid Care product from the pharmacist.
- Antibiotic eye ointment may be prescribed to treat any excessive eyelid infection. This will need to be applied to the eyelid edges two or three times daily for 7-10 days
- Anti-inflammatory eye ointment may be prescribed for cases of severe eyelid swelling. This is applied to the eyelid edges two or three times daily for two weeks.
- Tear lubricating eye drops may be prescribed to soothe the ocular surface.
- Diet: Diet can play an important role in the correct function of the glands as well as your overall immune status. As mentioned earlier, a reduced immune status will make you more susceptible to attacks of blepharitis. Correct function of meibomian glands requires adequate levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. This is found in fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements.
- Always wash your hands before touching the eyelids
- Wash your hair and face daily
- Wash your eyelids every night
- Carefully remove all cosmetics after use
- Ensure your diet is rich in Omega 3
- Don’t rub your eyes!