What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a condition of the eyelids which causes inflammation. It can affect people of any age but particularly young children and the over 60’s.
It is more common in people who have skin conditions such as dandruff, rosacea, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms are itchy or gritty eyes, red eyes, crusting in lashes like dandruff, watery eyes but it can also make you more light sensitive and give you a feeling of burning in your eyes. Your vision can sometimes be affected especially if your eyes are also dry.
Symptoms tend to be worse in the mornings and can come and go with periods of improvement and flare ups.
What are the causes?
Blepharitis can be caused by inflammatory response to bacteria that normally live on the eyelids, skin conditions such as psoriasis and rosacea and demodex mites. Another possible cause is dysfunction of the meibomian glands on the eyelids, these glands produce oil which helps to stop your tears from evaporating.
Demodex mites live on our eyelids, it is estimated that 100% of the over 70’s have them! When the natural fauna of the eyelid is affected this creates a biofilm which the Demodex mites feed on, which causes them to grow in numbers, causing irritation to the delicate surface of the lids and cylindrical like crusts on the base of the lashes.
Tea tree oil has been found to be the best treatment for these mites, Optase tea tree oil lid wipes are specifically designed for treatment of blepharitis including Demodex blepharitis. Regular lid cleansing is the key to treatment.
What is the treatment?
Eyelid hygiene is the key here :
- Daily lid cleansing – Starting with a warm compress over the closed eye to help soften any debris. Scrubbing of the eyelids with a pre-moistened treatment wipe or a warm cotton pad with an eyelid cleanser daily. We stock many different treatment options including wipes suitable for newborn babies, tea tree wipes and pre-surgical packs.
- Microwaveable eye masks are also a great way to warm around your eyes, especially if you suffer with dry eyes also. They stay warm for much longer and can be very relaxing. A stimulating eye massage following the use of these helps keep the natural oil glands flowing freely.
- In severe cases of blepharitis medicated eyedrops or ointments may be required. These may be prescribed by an IP optometrist or through your GP.
As Blepharitis is a chronic long term condition it is important that you continue with the treatment as long as you have been advised, this may be forever. If you stop treatment all together, if your symptoms have improved, you may find the condition returns.
Other important eye hygiene tips include always removing any eye makeup, changing eye makeup regularly and not sharing eye makeup with others. Don’t share your towels or face cloths with others and wash face cloths and towels regularly.
Blepharitis and Cataract Surgery
Blepharitis is more common in the older age group, also the main age group being referred for cataract surgery. It is important to note that active Blepharitis may be a contraindication for Cataract surgery so it is important to ensure your eyes are as healthy as possible pre surgery.
Speak to your optometrist about pre surgery treatment.
Blepharitis Patient Information Guide (pdf)