Causes, incidence, and risk factors of blepharitis
Blepharitis is a very common eye problem caused by an overgrowth of the bacteria that is normally found on the skin. It is usually due to seborrheic dermatitis or a bacterial infection. Both may occur at the same time.
Anterior blepharitis is caused by overgrowth of the bacteria that is normally found on the skin and usually presents as red lids with flaking or scales.
People who have anterior blepharitis have too much oil being produced by the glands near but not in the eyelid. This allows bacteria normally found on the skin to overgrow and cause inflammation but not usually infection.
Posterior blepharitis may be linked to repeated styes and chalazia where oil glands in the lid get blocked and the swollen gland creates a bump. You are more likely to develop this condition if you have seborrheic dermatitis of the face or scalp, rosacea and allergies.
Symptoms of blepharitis
The eyelids appear red and irritated, with scales that stick to the base of the eyelashes. The eyelids may be:
You may feel like you have sand or dust in your eye when you blink. Sometimes, the eyelashes may fall out.
Signs and tests for blepharitis
An examination of the eyelids during an eye examination is usually enough to diagnose blepharitis.
Treatment of blepharitis
Careful daily cleansing of the edges of the eyelids helps remove the skin oils that cause the bacteria to overgrow. Your optometrist may recommend Lid Care Towelettes or Theralid foam, although sometimes a warm washcloth is enough. Antibiotic ointments may also be helpful. For posterior blepharitis, hot compresses and lid massage to get solid oil flowing as liquid oil from the glands in the lids.
The likely outcome is good with treatment. Continued attention to lid cleanliness may be required to prevent repeated problems. Continued treatment will typically make the eyes less red and more comfortable.
Injury to the eye tissue (corneal ulcer) from irritation
Inflammation of the surface of the eye (conjunctivitis)
Call for an appointment with one of our optometrists at Pierce Family Vision (519-886-4170) if symptoms worsen or do not improve after careful cleansing of the eyelids for several days.
Cleaning eyelids carefully will help prevent blepharitis and is something we should all do at least twice per week, or daily if blepharitis is present. If a specific skin condition such as rosacea is present, it should be treated.