Blepharitis is a common eye disorder that involves an inflammation in the eyelids. It is often caused by a low-grade bacterial infection, and may also be caused by a skin condition.
There are two forms of blepharitis, posterior blepharitis and anterior blepharitis.
If you have anterior blepharitis, the front of your eyelids, near your eyelashes, will be affected. Generally the most common cause for anterior blepharitis is bacteria. Another cause of anterior blepharitis is a skin disorder that causes itching and flaking red skin, known as seborrheic dermatitis.
If you have posterior blepharitis, your inner eyelid is the part of the eye that is affected. Posterior blepharitis is more common than anterior blepharitis. If you suffer from rosacea, you are more likely to have this eye disorder. Problems with the meibomian glands (the oil glands) on your eyelid are the likely culprit that causes posterior blepharitis.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
Blepharitis can cause tearing, a sensation of a foreign body in your eye, debris or crusting on the outer parts of the lids, redness around the eyelids, dryness, sometimes “sticking” together of the lids on awakening, burning, and general eye irritation.
There are long-term consequences if bacterial blepharitis goes untreated, including dilated capillaries, crooked eyelashes, thinning eyelashes, thicker eyelids, and an irregular eyelid margin. Infections, styes and corneal erosions are additional possible outcomes if blepharitis is not treated.
Treatment for Blepharitis
Blepharitis can be a recurring eye condition, so it is difficult to treat. Depending on the type of blepharitis you have, treatments will vary. Often treatment includes applying warm compresses to the eyes, using a special soap to clean your eyelids often, using an antibiotic medication, and using massage of the lids to help the meibomian glands express oil. Artificial tears may be used if your eyes feel dry. In more serious cases steroid eye drops, or anti-bacterial ointments will be prescribed by your eye doctor.
It is important to remember to wash your hands whenever you touch your eyelids. Once your blepharitis is managed, a regimen of eye and lid hygiene is important to help prevent a recurrence of this eye disorder.
Some studies have suggested that flaxseed or fish oil supplements, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, can help with symptoms of posterior blepharitis, or even help prevent this disorder.
Blepharitis is usually chronic, and you will need to treat it consistently in order to keep it under control. If you wear contact lenses, you may need to take a break while you are treating your blepharitis. You may need to change your lenses more frequently, or switch to daily disposable lenses.