Blepharitis

Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid. It is a very common eye disease that affects the edge of the eyelids and eyelash hair follicles. There are three main types of blepharitis:

  • Causes


    The primary types of blepharitis are caused by either a skin condition or a bacterial infection. Blepharitis often occurs along with
    seborrheic dermatitis
    and acne rosacea.

  • Definition

    Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid. It is a very common eye disease that affects the edge of the eyelids and eyelash hair follicles. There are three main types of blepharitis:

    • Seborrheic blepharitis—Skin cells shed more rapidly than normal due to a sebaceous gland that is not functioning properly. The sebaceous gland secretes oil to the skin. The presence of excess oil and skin cells help bacteria grow.
    • Infectious blepharitis—Bacteria, in particular, staphylococcus, cause an infection in the glands along the eyelid.
    • Contact dermatitis blepharitis—Something coming in contact with the eyelid leads to local inflammation. For example, mascara may produce such an allergic reaction.
    Blepharitis
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  • Diagnosis


    The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Initially you may not have any special tests. If the inflammation looks unusual for blepharitis or fails to respond to treatment, the doctor may do a culture by passing a swab across the edge of the lid. The swab is sent to a lab to see if bacteria grow, and, if so, what kind. Your ophthalmologist may also decide to perform a
    biopsy
    by removing a tiny piece of the eyelid margin for microscopic examination to be certain that there is no sign of cancer (rarely, some cancers can mimic chronic blepharitis).

  • Prevention

    If you are susceptible to blepharitis, conscientious eyelid hygiene can help prevent a recurrence:

    • Always wash your hands before touching your eyelids.
    • Wash your hair and face daily.
    • Wash your eyelids nightly as described above.
    • Try to avoid using cosmetic makeup.

  • Risk Factors

    A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
    Risk factors for blepharitis include:

    • Seborrheic dermatitis
    • Acne rosacea
    • Contact allergies
    • Diabetes
    • Chemical irritants
    • Poor hygiene
    • Cosmetic makeup
    • Advanced age

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms depend on the cause of the blepharitis. They are usually worse in the morning and involve both eyes.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Redness, flaky skin, and oily secretions along the edge of the eyelid
    • Crusty material clinging to the eyelashes
    • Eyelids “glued together” in the morning
    • Dry scales or dandruff-type material on the scalp and eyebrows
    • Itching or burning sensation
    • Tearing
    • Light sensitivity
    • Sensation of a foreign object in the eye
    • Ulcers or sores at the base of the eyelashes (in severe cases)
    • Scant, broken eyelashes
    • Chalazion
      (nonpainful bumps in the eyelid), which may become infected (called a stye)
    • Conjunctivitis
      (occasionally)

  • Treatment

    Blepharitis is a chronic condition that often requires long-term management. Treatment depends on the cause of the condition. Your doctor may advise you not to wear contact lenses until the blepharitis has resolved.


    Topical corticosteroids may be needed for severe inflammation and complications.

    Oral antibiotics are used for more serious infections.

    If you are diagnosed with blepharitis, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .