Blepharitis is a term to describe eyelid infections. Read on to find out more

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a general term to refer to eyelid inflammation. Sore eyelids and eye crust forming around the eyelids and eyelashes are commonly experienced when blepharitis occurs.

Blepharitis is a common condition. In an American study, Ophthalmologists and Optometrists have stated that 37% and 47% of their patients respectively have developed blepharitis symptoms before.

The same study further found that younger persons were more likely to report blepharitis signs than their older counterparts, which differs from common knowledge about blepharitis and eyelid inflammations generally.

Serious damage can occur to your eyes or eyelids if blepharitis is left untreated. It is recommended that you visit your local doctor or eye specialist if the symptoms last more than a week.

Causes: Blepharitis

There are several possible causes of blepharitis, including:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Meibomian gland dysfunction aka MGD
  • Dry eyes
  • Fungal infection
  • Parasite attack (Demodex eyelash mites)

Symptoms for dry eyes often occur simultaneously with blepharitis, and it is unclear whether it is dry eyes that are the cause of the blepharitis infection, or if blepharitis causes dry eyes.

Recent studies have led medical professionals to believe that these two symptoms may form a newly identified chronic eye condition known as Dry Eye Blepharitis Syndrome (DEBS).

Blepharitis usually is correlated with an excess of bacteria around the edges of the eyelids and particularly at the follicles of the eyelashes. The bacteria propagate in time and create something medical professionals refer to as “biofilm”.

This biofilm is much like plaque that appears on teeth. It is a toxic environment that allows eyelash mites called “Demodex” feed and thrive. This results in a flourishing of these mites, and this further worsens the eyelid inflammation already in place. Within the biofilm also resides a variety of bacteria that create substances known as “exotoxins “. This can cause inflammation of meibomian glands, which are oil glands responsible for secreting oil that coats the eye’s surface. This leads to a condition known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD for short), which may also lead to a worsening of dry eye symptoms.

Other causes may be due to our daily routines. Our eyelids may become infected due to accumulation of oil or dirt at the roots of the lashes. Many times, inadequate removal of makeup is a major culprit.

Symptoms: Blepharitis

Common blepharitis symptoms are listed below:

  • Burning eyelids or a burning sensation in the eyes
  • Eye crust and debris collection the root of the eyelashes
  • Eye irritation
  • Increased tear production, watery eyes
  • Itchy eyelids

Patients may experience some or all of the above symptoms, and may not always be present. In rare cases, loss of eyelashes – known as madarosis may occur.

Blepharitis also is common in patients that use contact lens. Improper use or bad eye hygiene may foster a suitable environment for bacteria and parasites as a result.

Treatment: Blepharitis

Visit with your eye specialist or doctor to ascertain the basis of your blepharitis or eyelid infection/inflammation. A thorough investigation of the eyes and eyelids will allow the doctor to evaluate whether you are indeed suffering from blepharitis and prescribe the appropriate blepharitis treatment.

Depending on the medical profession you visit, blepharitis treatments may include:

  • Eyelid scrubs. Gentle scrubbing of eyelids will remove biofilm and excess bacteria from your eyelids and base of the eyelashes. Your eye doctor will suggest a regular regimen of warm compresses and lid scrubs to keep your eyelids clean. The amount of bacteria and Demodex mites present on your eyelids will also be significantly reduced as a result. At home, diluted baby shampoo can be used as a cleaning agent for an eyelid scrub.
  • Medicated Eye Drops. Your doctor may prescribe eye drops or topical ointments to be applied with a clean cotton swab to control excess bacteria that may cause blepharitis or other microorganisms present on the eyelids. Especially if the doctor deems that there is a risk of the infection spreading to the eye itself, or if it seems you have developed conjunctivitis or some other type of eye infection simultaneously.

Eyelid hygiene tips

Eyelid hygiene is crucial in the treatment and management of blepharitis symptoms. Improper hygiene may lead to a worsening of the blepharitis condition.

First, use clean, warm compresses to help unblock residue in the meibomian glands in your eyelids. Here’s how:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, then moisten a clean cloth with warm water (as high a temperature as you can tolerate).
  • Drape the warm cloth over the affected eyelids for several minutes.
  • Proceed to gently rub the edges of your eyelids with the cloth before you open your eyes. Ensure that the pressure is light, too much force may lead to injury or introduce the residing bacteria into the eye.

Your doctor will have recommendations on how often and regularly you will need to use the warm compress during your treatment and recovery. As a general guideline, you will need to keep your eyes covered for longer periods of time and employ the warm compresses more often during the start of treatment. As your condition improves, the time and regularity of using the warm compress can gradually be reduced.

Why Asia Retina Eye Surgery Centre

At Asia Retina, we are able to isolate the demodex mite by placing a single eyelash under the microscope. Demodex is easily treated by anti-parasite ointment and eyedrops; although there is chance of recurrence. If you experience prolonged eye itchiness or discharge, get your eyes checked for any insidious infections.

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