What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common condition, full name blepharitis meibomian gland disease. It is a chronic inflammation of the eyelids. The patient complains of sore, irritable, itchy and occasionally a red eye.

Physical signs include inflamed lid margins, blocked meibomian glands and crusts around the lid margins.

There are two main types of blepharitis:

Seborrheic blepharitis – is characterised by redness of the lids, scales and flaking around the eyelashes. It can be associated with dandruff of the scalp.

Ulcerative blepharitis – is more severe caused by bacteria and is characterised by hard crusts around the eyelashes which when removed leave small ulcers. The white of the eye may turn red. In severe cases the cornea may become inflamed.

Loss of eyelashes and distortion of the lids may cause chronic tearing.

How is Blepharitis Treated?

Treatment may include the following:
Keep the lids clean – due to the long term nature of the condition, strict hygiene is necessary

  • Gently clean the lids with a cotton bud dipped in warm water and baby shampoo and rinse.
  • Gently scrub both eyelids for 2 minutes with eyes closed.
  • Rinse and towel dry.

Treat infection if present–antibiotic ointment should be smeared on the lid margin to help kill any bacteria that may be aggravating the condition.

Replace tears – artifical tears may provide considerable relief from the symptoms. Treat associated skin conditions – treat an oily scalp with antidandruff shampoo.

In severe cases antibiotics and cortisone preparations alleviate the condition. Once the acute phase is controlled, lid hygiene may be sufficient to maintain control of blepharitis.

Long-term use of cortisone preparations can cause side-effects. Some susceptible individuals may develop glaucoma or virus infections from prolonged use.


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