What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common eyelid inflammation. Your lids get red and itchy, and scales can form on your eyelashes.

Two types of blepharitis exist: Anterior blepharitis affects the edge of the eyelid near the lashes, and posterior blepharitis occurs on the inner eyelid where it touches the eye.

Anyone can get either type of blepharitis; it’s usually caused by bacteria or by a skin condition like dandruff of the scalp that migrates to your eye area. It can be uncomfortable but it won’t damage your eye or permanently impact your vision.

What are the Symptoms of Blepharitis?

If you are experiencing red or watery eyes, or a stinging or burning feeling in your eyes, you may have blepharitis. Other symptoms include itching, swelling, flaking skin, sensitivity to light, loss of eyelashes and waking up with a crusty film over your eyes and lashes.

Blepharitis Causes

There are two different types of blepharitis: anterior and posterior. Each type is caused by different things.

Anterior blepharitis, which affects the front part of the eyelids, tends to be caused by a response to bacteria. Bacteria can live on the skin all over the body and it is not usually harmful. However, sometimes people are particularly sensitive or allergic to it and it can cause the eyes to become irritated. In some instances, the bacteria can cause a mild infection on the eyelid which can lead to blepharitis.

It’s also possible for anterior blepharitis to be caused by unusually dry or oily skin on the eyelids. In these cases, the individual usually suffers from a scalp condition like dandruff and the same problem on the scalp begins to affect the eye.

With posterior blepharitis, the problem comes from the rear part of the eye. It is also known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). In these cases, the meibomian gland, which is responsible for producing the oils in our tears, becomes blocked. This causes dry eyes, which results in an irritation of the eyes and eventually blepharitis.

How is Blepharitis Treated?

Gentle, consistent care that includes washing your head and face, gently scrubbing the skin around the eyes and using warm compresses on the eyelids can reduce many of the symptoms of blepharitis. If you wear contacts, remove them and wear glasses while you’re treating your symptoms. Use of makeup should be avoided to rule out irritation or allergy from an ingredient and to make regular cleaning easier.

Since some cases of blepharitis are caused by bacteria, cases that don’t go away or improve in a couple of days should be seen by a doctor. Your medical professional can prescribe antibiotics that may help.

Blepharitis Prevention

The best way to prevent blepharitis to try to resolve any eye irritation before it develops. Those with dry eyes should consider using eye drops on a regular basis to prevent the eyelids from becoming inflamed.

To reduce the risk of infection in the eye or irritation caused by bacteria, you should strive for good skin and eye hygiene. Baby shampoo could be used to wash the eyelashes to remove dirt. It might also be helpful to use a shampoo on the head which is designed to deal with excess oil on the scalp, or dry skin and dandruff.

Regular visits to an optometrist will also help to identify eye irritation early so that suitable treatments can be recommended before severe blepharitis develops.