Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid margin. This is where you eyelashes are positioned.
As it blepharitis affects approximately 70% of the adult population, it is considered the most common eye condition. However, this is often underdiagnosed. The vast majority of affected people often do not realise they have blepharitis until later when the disease starts to cause symptoms such as dry eyes, red eyelid margins and recurrent infections.
Blepharitis can cause a number of different eye symptoms and abnormalities:
- Dry eye symptoms
- Watery eyes due to irritation causing excessive tear production
- Narrowing of the tear duct drainage system resulting in watering
- So called 'sleet', ie sticky eyes on waking with matted lids
- Red eyelids
- Potential eyelid cyst and infection formation (Stye/Chalazion)
- Eyelash abnormality such as loss of eyelashes or inturning eyelashes (entropion)
- Ulcers of the cornea which may be mild or rarely life threatening
What causes blepharitis?
Often blepharitis is described as anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis is described as meibomianitis . Anterior blepharitis appears like Dandruff-like flakes form along the eyelashes. Often the cause is unknown but, a bacteria around the lashes known as Staphylococcus Aureus can be a cause.
Blepharitis is more common in people with certain skin disorders:
- Acne Rosacea
- Allergic blepharitis
Uncommonly, a mite called Demodex , can cause blepharitis. These mites live in the eyelash follicles.
It is important to say that blepharitis is not a serious and rarely sight threatening condition. It is extremely unusual to for blepharitis to damage your eyes. Treatment is, however, needed to keep your eyes comfortable. Treatment aims at unblocking the glands within the eyelid, replacing the faulty tears and treat any infections.
The mainstay of treatment is lid hygiene/cleaning.
- Prepare the diluted baby shampoo: dilute baby shampoo, a tea-spoonful in one pint of warm (almost hot) water.
- Soak a cotton bud in this dilute baby shampoo. Clean the lids gently rubbing the cotton bud against the lid margin, and slightly on the inside of the lid. This is to remove scales and debris on the edge of the eyelid. The lower lid is the easiest to clean.
- Warm a face cloth in the microwave (not too hot) or soak it in hot water
- Bathe the eyelids with face cloth over the closed eyelids for 4 minutes...just hold the ball over the eyelids ...this will loosen any scales on the eyelid. This thins the secretions in the eyelid glands.
- Start with the lower lid; repeat with the upper lid...this is a little harder, but not so important.
- Repeat this at least twice a week, but more often if the blepharitis is very severe.
- It may take several weeks for any improvement. It is safe to stop cleaning, but you may need to start again if the condition returns.
Lubricants can helpful to both assist the spread of your own tears and lubricate the eye, and replace tears if you have 'dry eyes'. In mild cases, simple lubricants over the counter such as 'Viscotears' are helpful. If the eyes remain sore, preservative-free artificial tears may help. These are particularly useful for people with very dry eyes using lubricants very extensively. Because they have no preservative they can be used more often, even every half-hour, without damaging your eyes
Diet and Fish
Your diet does have an integral role in treating your condition. Simply things like:
- Avoiding saturated fats
- Eating 2 portions of oily fish per week (75gms per portion)
Antibiotic tablets are useful if more conservative treatments do not work. In patients who suffer from roseacea, or very dry skin find these particularly helpful.
Antibiotic tablets are NOT suitable for everyone, particularly if you use several other tablets, are pregnant/breast feeding, or have stomach problems. The most effective are a group of antibiotics called tetracyclines. Doxycycline 50-100mg once daily for 3 months is both effective in treating the blepharitis and stabilising the tear film protecting the eye from dryness.
This is a new revolutionary treatment for lid margin disease - more information
What Is Blepharitis?
If you have been affected by any of the symptoms mentioned above, please don't hesitate to give us a call.
We have a team of experts on stand-by who are ready to take your call at our Manchester (0161 907 2685) Clinic or our Blackpool (01253 308 031) Clinic.