What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is chronic inflammatory disease of eyelids that usually happens where the eyelashes grow. Blepharitis is characterized by inflamed, irritated and itchy eyelids. It can be uncomfortable and unattractive. Anyone can get blepharitis at any age, but the prevalence increases with age, since as we get older, we make fewer natural antibodies in our tears that normally fight the bacteria that is thought to be a cause blepharitis..
Common signs and symptoms of blepharitis include:
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- A gritty, burning sensation in the eye
- Eyelids that appear greasy
- Itchy eyelids
- Red, swollen eyelids
- Flaking of the skin around the eyes
- Crusted eyelashes upon awakening
- Eyelid sticking
- More frequent blinking
- Sensitivity to light
- Eyelashes that grow abnormally (misdirected eyelashes)
- Loss of eyelashes
What causes blepharitis?
A common cause of blepharitis is the malfunction of the tiny oil glands located near the base of the eyelashes.
It can also be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria at the base of the eyelashes.
Another common cause is infection by mites (such as an eight legged mite known as demodex) or lice.
Other causes include seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows), rosacea (a skin condition associated with facial redness), allergies, allergic reactions to eye makeup, certain medications (especially acne medicines such as isotretinoin) or any combination of these factors.
What if I do nothing for my blepharitis?
|Eye lash problems||Blepharitis can cause your eyelashes to fall out or grow abnormally (misdirected eyelashes)|
|Scarring||Blepharitis can cause scarring on your eyelids if it goes untreated for a long time|
|Dry eye disease||Blepharitis can cause dry eye disease. In people with blepharitis, abnormal oils and other debris from the infected eyelid can fall from the eye lid and into your tear film causing your tears to become abnormal. When the tear film is not working properly, your eyes cannot lubricate themselves properly and dry eyes or watery eyes are the result. Click here to learn more.|
|Contact lens problems||Because blepharitis can affect the amount of lubrication in your eyes, wearing contact lenses may be uncomfortable|
|Sty||A sty is a red, painful lump at the edge of your eyelid, usually on the outside part of the lid and can look like a boil or a pimple|
|Chalazion||A chalazion is a cyst in the eyelid caused by a blockage of the meibomian gland, which is one of the oil glands in the eye that is critical for making healthy tear film. When the glad becomes infected with bacteria, a red swollen eyelid develops. A chalazion is usually found on the inside of the eyelid.|
|Pink eye||Blepharitis can cause chronic pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis.|
|Corneal ulcer||Constant irritation from eyelids suffering from blepharitis can cause a corneal ulcer, which is a sore on the clear dome that covers the coloured part of your eye.|
How do you treat blepharitis?
The doctor uses special equipment to treat and clear the affected area of the eyelid. This might be accompanied with antibiotics, anesthetic, steroid eye drops or ointments, artificial tears. A number of visits to the clinic over a period of time might be necessary.
BlephEx is one of the treatments we offer here at Vision Source Vancouver. It is a painless, in office procedure that uses a medical-grade micro sponge to remove debris from your eyelids and exfoliate them. The procedure lasts about 6-8 minutes and is done with an anesthetic drop in each eye to increase patient comfort. The procedure is repeated at 4-6 month intervals. To learn more about BlepEx, click here.