What is Blepharitis ?
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that affects the oil glands of the lids and the eyelashes. There are two forms of this condition, ulcerative and nonulcerative. In its nonulcerative form, it causes symptoms including swelling, itching, burning, watering, and redness, accompanied by the formation of crusts of dried mucus on the lids.
In fact, this condition was once referred to as granulated eyelids. Nonulcerative blepharitis is a cousin of dandruff and eczema, and may be a complication of psoriasis. It is often linked to seborrhea of the scalp, the eyebrows and the skin around the eyes.
In ulcerative blepharitis, a Staphylococcus infection at the roots of the eyelashes causes sticky crusts to form on the lid margin, followed by small sores, or ulcers. The eyes become reddened and abnormally sensitive to light.
Both forms of blepharitis can be contagious. Severe blepharitis can lead to corneal problems. This condition should not be neglected.
General recommendations for blepharitis :
- Keep the area scrupulously clean. Soap your hands for at least ten seconds and rinse well before treating your eyes.
- Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes. That can spread the infection.
- If you wear makeup, give it up for the duration. Contaminated eye makeup can be a contributing factor to both forms of blepharitis. Once you decide to start using makeup again, replace old cosmetics especially eye makeup with fresh products.
- If you have a related skin condition, such as dandruff, eczema, or psoriasis, see the appropriate entries for additional recommendations.
Treatment of Blepharitis :
- Blepharitis can be difficult to manage because it tends to recur. Treatment depends on the type of blepharitis you have. It may include applying warm compresses to the eyelids, cleansing them, using an antibiotic and/or massaging the lids. If your blepharitis makes your eyes feel dry, the doctor may also prescribe artificial tears or lubricating ointments, or suggest silicone punctal plugs. Sometimes steroids are used to control inflammation, but the potential side effects speak against long-term use.
- Sores on the eyelids call for an evolution by an ophthalmologist. Topical antibiotic ointment applications may be adequate treatment, but let an expert decide.
- Infection of structures adjacent to the eyelids may require oral, instead of topical, antibiotics, and/or drainage of inflamed glands.
- Occasionally, topical steroid ointments are used to reduce inflammation, but these drugs must be used with great care. If there is even a suspicion of a viral infection, such as a herpes infection, steroids should not be used. Steroids suppress the local immune response, allowing a herpes infection to become more aggressive, Use of these drugs also creates a risk of increased pressure within the eyeball, which can lead to glaucoma as well as to cataracts, perforation of the cornea, and damage to the optic nerve.
- Cleansing the eyelids is essential to blepharitis treatment. Your doctor will recommend what to clean them with: warm water only, salt water, baby shampoo diluted with warm water or a special over-the-counter product specifically made for cleansing the lids.