Demodex is a type of mite that is commonly found in human skin, more in people with rosacea and has been a cause for other skin conditions such as dermatitis and balding.
Once they are found in the eyelids, these mite feeds on the oil and dead skin cells that are found in eyelash follicles, sometimes they block the oil glands and cause meibomian gland dysfunction or an infected stye or cause ocular surface inflammation.
How do I know if I have Demodex Blepharitis?
Some of the symptoms that signify that you may be suffering from Demodex blepharitis includes itching, red and teary eyes, blurry vision, foreign body sensation, whitish discharge and crusting on eyelashes.
If you have Demodex, your eye doctor will able to see these signs on the microscope or slit-lamp:
- Cylindrical dandruff
- Eyelash disorders (madarosis)
- Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
- Lid Margin Inflammation
- Conjunctival Inflammation (blepharoconjunctivitis)
- Corneal inflammation (marginal keratitis)
- Recurrent chalazion or stye may signify presence of underlying Demodex infection.
Do I need to visit an eye doctor for diagnosis?
As Demodex mites are microscopic, they are not visible to the naked eye, so it is necessary for an Ophthalmologist to look at your eyelashes and place an infected eyelash on a microscope to determine its presence.
What treatments are available?
Demodex is easily treated by anti-parasitic ointment and medicated eyedrops. Maintenance of lid hygiene is important to prevent recurrent infections or inflammations using lid wash or lid scrub with tea tree oil.