This is a CHRONIC INFLAMMATION OF THE EYELIDS (especially the glands of the eyelid margins) which may cause redness, crusting, irritation, burning and itching of the eyelid margins and may cause red irritated eyes.
Sometimes this only develops in later life. Patients with blepharitis often have other minor skin ailments such as rosacea, oily skin, bad dandruff, acne, psoriasis etc.
The eyelids contain sebaceous glands (like the oil producing glands of the skin that are involved in acne) and an abnormality in these glands is the problem. The thickened secretions are associated with an increase in bacteria, which cause low-grade inflammation and irritation.
After many years there may be a thickening of the eyelid margins, loss of eyelashes and distortion of the margins of the eyelids, which can cause chronic tearing and may require minor surgery for correction. Sometimes cysts form in the eyelid tissue, which may require minor surgery.
How is Blepharitis Treated?
Treatment may take 3 or 4 weeks to start to work and will need to continue long term, though with less frequency.
A. LID HYGIENE is necessary and will need to be continued long term. The following regime may be useful - do it EVERY morning initially:
- Hold a hot wet face washer on the closed eye until the heat is gone.
- Using a cotton tip, roll it against the closed eye lid from the top towards the eye lashes. For bottom eyelid, from the bottom towards the eyelashes. Express the secretions from the glands at the base of the eyelashes by pressing firmly with a finger on the eyelid margin. Closing the eyelids can make this easier .
- Now put some babyshampoo in a cup of warm water. Make a foamy solution. Take a cotton bud and wipe the lid margin where the eye lashes come out from. Do for upper and lower lids.
B. ANTIBIOTIC AND CORTISONE CREAM may sometimes be prescribed. Occasionally a long course of antibiotic tablets (doxycycline) may be necessary.
C. If the main symptom is a GRITTY SENSATION then the frequent use of simple lubricants (tear drops/ointment) (eg. Refresh or Polytears) will help. Use these as frequently as needed for comfort.