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What is Blepharitis?

If you are experiencing grittiness or burning in your eyes, if you are experiencing excessive tearing itchiness, redness or swelling of the eyelids, dry eyes or crusting of the eyelids, you may be suffering from a common condition known as co blepharitis.

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids often caused by bacteria or dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows. Sometimes blepharitis is caused by infestations of a certain kind of mite that makes its home in your eyelashes.

There are two types of blepharitis. The first is call Anterior blepharitis. Anterior blepharitis occurs when naturally produced bacteria that are commonly found on the face and lids become excessive.

The second type is Posterior blepharitis. This occurs when the glands of the eyelids produce a specific type of oil that creates a favorable environment to grow bacteria.

Symptoms of Blepharitis

Blepharitis can vary greatly in severity and cause a variety of symptoms which include:

  • Red, swollen eyelids
  • Itching
  • Burning or gritty sensation
  • Excessive tearing
  • Dry eyes
  • Crusting on eyelids

If left untreated, symptoms can become more severe such as:

  • Blurred vision
  • Infections and styes
  • Loss of eyelashes or crooked eyelashes
  • Eye inflammation or erosion, particularly the cornea
  • Dilated capillaries
  • Irregular eyelid margin

Treatment for Blepharitis

Treatment for blepharitis depends on the cause of the condition but a very important aspect is keeping the eyelids clean. Warm compresses are usually recommended to soak the lids and loosen any crust to be washed away. It is recommended to use a gentle cleaner (baby soap or an over the counter lid-cleansing agent) to clean the area.

For bacterial infections, antibiotic drops or ointments may be prescribed, and in serious cases steroidal treatment (usually drops) may be used.

Blepharitis is typically a recurring condition so here are some tips for dealing with flare-ups:

  • Use an anti-dandruff shampoo when washing your hair
  • Massage the eyelids to release the oil from the meibomian glands
  • Use artificial tears to moisten eyes when they feel dry
  • Consider breaking from use of contact lenses during the time of the flare-up and or switching to daily disposable lenses.

The most important way to increase your comfort with blepharitis is by keeping good eyelid hygiene. Speak to your doctor about products that he or she recommends.