Blepharitis literally means inflammation of the eyelids (blepha means “eyelid”, and itis means “inflammation”). It’s a very common chronic condition that affects over 82 million people. While there is no cure for blepharitis, it can be managed very well with ongoing treatment and care.
Symptoms can range from very mild to severe. In mild cases, you may not have any symptoms at all or only minor irritation. In more severe cases, blepharitis can lead to chronic eyelid infections, recurrent styes, and misdirected eyelashes. In extreme, untreated cases, damage to the eyelid margins or even corneal scarring can occur.
Blepharitis symptoms can include one or more of the following:
There are 2 main types of blepharitis: anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis.
Anterior blepharitis affects the outside, front of the eyelid. It’s typically characterized by crusting and hard scales at the base of the lashes. Some common types and causes of anterior blepharitis include:
Your optometrist will use a combination of exams to determine if you have blepharitis, including:
Specialized eyelid wipes help keep your eyelids clean and reduce the amount of inflammation-causing bacteria. Treatment for demodex blepharitis includes specialized wipes that contain a low concentration of tea tree oil as this helps to eradicate the demodex mite.
Warming masks can provide relief for anterior and posterior blepharitis. The gentle heat helps soften the crusts at the base of the eyelashes and the hardened oils in the meibomian glands.
BlephEx is an in-office blepharitis treatment. The treatment uses a small rotating micro-sponge to gently remove bacterial toxins, excess bacteria, and biofilm from the eyelid margins and eyelashes. The procedure is painless, and patients usually experience significant, instant relief from their blepharitis symptoms.
Mibo Thermoflo is an in-office treatment specifically for posterior blepharitis caused by meibomian gland dysfunction. This innovative device uses thermoelectric heat to gently heat and massage the eyelids to the melt hardened oils (meibum). By melting hardened oils, Mibo Thermoflo helps improve the quality and quantity of oils in your eye, leading to reduced symptoms.
Blepharitis may contribute to dry eyes or increase the symptoms of existing dry eyes. Along with lid wipes, preservative-free drops can help control dry eye and blepharitis symptoms.
Short-term use of prescription antibiotic or steroid eye drops may be prescribed by your optometrist to control episodes of inflammation.
If you suffer from blepharitis, you may be at an increased risk for the following conditions.
Dry eyes and blepharitis have very similar symptoms, and these 2 conditions often co-exist. Blepharitis may lead to dry eyes as it can disrupt the quality of our tear film, making existing dry eye symptoms worse.
Styes are a bacterial infection of one or more of the meibomian glands. People with blepharitis are more likely to have recurrent styes, due to the presence of excess bacteria on the eyelid margins. Prescription antibiotics and eyelid warming masks are often effective in treating these styes.
A chalazion is a sterile hardened lump that develops on the eyelid margin, usually following a stye. It’s caused by accumulated and hardened oil in one or more blocked meibomian glands. Heat therapy with an eyelid warming mask may be effective in slowly melting the hardened oil and draining the chalazion.
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