Blepharitis occurs when the small oil glands found next to the base of the eyelashes go awry. People suffering from this eye condition find their eyelids itchy, irritated and inflamed. It may be unsightly and embarrassing, but more often, it does not cause permanent vision impairment.
The main goal of blepharitis treatment is to help the sufferers deal with the condition by controlling its associated symptoms. But because it is a chronic disorder, it may recur time and again despite treating the symptoms.
What is Blepharitis?
It is a common eye infection that affects the eyelash area. This type of eye infection may come in two forms, the anterior and the posterior.
The exterior part of the eye in the eyelash area is affected in anterior blepharitis. It is further classified into Staphylococcal, Seborrheic and Demodex. Staphylococcal is characterized by the falling out of eyelashes, while scaling and flaky eyelids typify the Seborrheic type. Demodex is characterized by the infestation of small mites with their residues being held up in the follicles of the eyelashes.
The eyelids are affected in posterior blepharitis which is further classified into Meibomian and Rosacea. A person is said to have Meibomian when he or she has foamy tears while rosacea is associated with pimple-like bumps and redness of the face.
What causes Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is caused by the malfunctioning of the oil glands near the root of the eyelashes. There are a number of conditions and diseases that cause the oil glands to malfunction, some of these are:
- Bacterial infection
- Eyelash mites
- Facial redness or rosacea
- Dandruff of the eyebrows and scalp or Seborrheic dermatitis
- Allergic reactions
How will you know that you are affected?
People suffering from blepharitis have red and watery eyes that come with a burning sensation. They also notice that their eyebrows are flaking and the eyelashes are crusting. Their eyelids are greasy, itchy and inflamed too and their eyes have become very sensitive to light. Doctor’s consultation is highly recommended when there is no improvement despite your earnest efforts at good hygiene, regular cleaning and care.
What issues occur due to Blepharitis?
A number of conditions may occur as a result of blepharitis, and these are:
- Scarring of the eyelids
- Falling out of eyelashes
- Eyelid infection or sty
- Lump in the eyelid
- Excess tearing
- Cornea injury
- Recurrent pink eye
Tests involved in the diagnosis of Blepharitis
Blepharitis is diagnosed by eyelid examination and swab testing. During the eyelid examination, the doctor will examine the eyes and eyelids with the aid of a specially designed magnifying instrument. The doctor may conduct swab testing to diagnose blepharitis. He or she will get an oil or crust sample forming in your eyelids by swabbing. The sample will then be analyzed for the presence of fungi, bacteria or allergy of some kind.
Treatment helps people with blepharitis by controlling the symptoms that come with it. This greatly depends on every individual based on the underlying cause. If the origin of the disorder is bacterial infection, the patient will be treated with antibiotic medications. This may come in the form of pill, ointment, cream and eye drops. Steroid eye drops and ointments may be used to control the inflammation of the eyes and eyelids. If the patient suffers from dry eyes, artificial tears and lubricating eye drops may be used which can be purchased at the local pharmacy. If it is caused by an underlying medical condition like rosacea and seborrheic, the treatment primarily involves addressing the underlying medical condition. Despite earnest efforts of controlling the symptoms, relapses may occur but treatment along with regular hygiene has been proven helpful in controlling its recurrence.
Is it preventable?
People with or without previous bouts of blepharitis will do well in preventing the recurrence of the infection with good hygiene. This is done by:
- Washing the eyelids with warm water and baby shampoo or clean washcloth two times a day, in soft scrubbing motion to remove bacteria-laden crusts.
- Washing the hands regularly especially after touching the nose. This is because the nostrils accommodate staphylococcus bacteria and may later settle in the eyelids. It is very important then to keep the fingers away from the nostrils.
- Regularly discard eye makeup after three months and don’t allow anybody else to use it.
- Exposure to air pollutants like smoke must be limited because it can spark off latent blepharitis.
Blepharitis which can occur to anybody is caused by the malfunctioning of oil glands found near the eyelashes. When the oil glands go amiss, bacteria will start to invade the eyelid margin causing infection and the eyelid then becomes itchy, inflamed and irritated. Treatment is dependent on each individual’s underlying cause. But despite treatment, it may recur especially if the person does not take preventive measures.
Check out these photos of Blepharitis to see how the eyelids become itchy and irritated.