What is Blepharitis?

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Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelids and commonly occurs when your tiny oil glands near the base of the eyelashes get clogged.  The clogged glands trigger irritated and red eyes. Several diseases and conditions can also cause blepharitis.  Blepharitis is a chronic condition that can be difficult to treat.  While it is uncomfortable and unsightly, it is not contagious and does not cause permanent damage to your vision.

There are two types:

  • Anterior blepharitis – this affects the area of the eyelids where the eyelashes sit.
  • Posterior blepharitis – this affects the meibomian glands which produce part of the tears.

Blepharitis is a common condition.  General practitioners say it accounts for 5% of all eye problems they see.

Blepharitis Symptoms

For many people blepharitis is often a low-level, chronic inflammation and many experience periods of time when there are no symptoms. However, inflammation can occur for long periods of time and may require treatment. While this condition can be quite uncomfortable, it is not usually a serious condition and vision is seldom affected. Blepharitis can also cause problems with the consistency of the tears which may lead to dry eye symptoms.  This condition can affect both eyes, with eyelids becoming red and inflamed making your eyes feel irritated, dry, gritty, sore or itchy.

Blepharitis Treatment Options

Unfortunately, blepharitis never really goes away, but there are ways that you can help keep it under control.  One of the best things you can do is incorporate self-care measures–washing your eyes and using warm compresses–to treat your symptoms. If your symptoms don’t respond to this treatment method, one of our eye doctors can offer prescription treatments that have found to be effective:

  • Eyelid Antibiotics. Applied directly to the eyelid, this treatment method can resolve symptoms that directly related to bacterial infection of the eyelids. Both topical and oral antibiotics are available.
  • Steroid Eyedrops.  Steroid eyedrops or ointments can help reduce your inflammation symptoms. Both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory eyedrops can help with inflammation.
  • Immune System Medications. Topical cyclosporine (Restasis) is a calcineurin inhibitor that can offer relief for symptoms.
  • Treating the underlying cause. This condition is linked to seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea and other diseases. Control the disease and you can control your symptoms.

We recommend that you have an eye test every two years, unless your optometrist advises otherwise to stay on top of your symptoms and condition.

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