Blepharitis is more apt to occur in people who have oily skin, dry eyes, or dandruff. It can begin in early childhood, producing granulated sticky eyelids, red eyes, inflamed eyes and continue throughout life as a chronic condition. It can also develop of its own accord later in life.
We all have bacteria which resides on the surface of the skin. For the most part it does not create any problems. However, in certain individuals, this bacteria proliferates in the skin at the base of the eyelashes. The resulting irritation, combined with nearby active oil glands, causes dandruff-like scales and particles to form along the lashes and eyelid margins (dry eyelids).
For some people the scales or bacteria associated with blepharitis produce only minor irritation and itching, but with others they may cause stinging, burning and redness. In some unfortunate individuals the allergy to the bacteria and scales can cause inflammation of the cornea (the clear windshield of the eye).
Treatment for Blepharitis
Those of you following these eyecare articles may recognize that BLEPHARITIS and the DRY EYE SYNDROME have similar symptoms. That is why it is so important NOT TO PLAY DOCTOR! These conditions are entirely different and medically treated as such. If you think you may have blepharitis, see your ophthalmologist. Your ophthalmologist provides total eye care, medical, surgical, and optical.
In addition to eliminating redness and soreness, treatment can prevent potential infection and scarring of the cornea. You doctor will perform a complete eye examination to determine the most effective treatment.
Usually, blepharitis can be controlled by careful, daily cleaning of the eyelashes. You can do this by moistening a clean washcloth with tap water as warm as you can stand without burning. Hold the washcloth against the eyelids until it cools, then rewarm and repeat for five to ten minutes.
After soaking, scrub each eyelid gently for one minute using a clean washcloth wrapped around your index finger and moistened with warm tap water. Cotton-tipped applicators, like Q-tips, are also useful to remove accumulated material from the eyelashes.
To remove excessive amounts of material from your eyelids, use a few drops of a non-irritating shampoo, such as baby shampoo, mixed in lukewarm water. Being careful to avoid getting shampoo in your eye, scrub back and forth along the eyelashes of all eyelids, and then rinse with plain tap water. Once the redness and soreness are under control, this cleaning may be decreased from daily to twice weekly. However, if the symptoms return, return to daily cleansing immediately.
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe eye drops or ointment to be used along with the daily cleansing regimen. For ointments, use a clean fingertip to rub a small amount into the eyelashes. Be careful to follow recommended dosages; excess medication will cause temporary blurring of vision. And with any medication, there is a small possibility of allergy or other reaction. If you think this is happening, stop the medication and contact your doctor immediately.
For certain types of blepharitis, medications taken by mouth are helpful. Most of these medications are antibiotics that also improve or alter the oil composition of the eyelid oil glands. When taken properly, they are safe. However, side effects may occur in some individuals, including skin rash, slight nausea, and increased sensitivity to sun.
Although medications may help control the symptoms of blepharitis, they alone are not sufficient; keeping the eyelids clean is essential.
If you think you may have blepharitis, your eye doctor can determine the cause and recommend the right combination of treatment specifically for you.