Blepharitis is a common and persistent inflammation of the eyelids. Symptoms include irritation, itching and occasionally a red eye. Blepharitis frequently occurs in people who have oily skin, dandruff or dry eyes.
Bacteria are on the surface of everyone's skin, but in certain individuals they thrive in the skin at the base of the eyelashes. The resulting irritation, sometimes associated with over activity of the nearby oil glands causes dandruff-like scales and particles to form along the lashes and eyelid margins.
For some people the scales or bacteria associated with blepharitis produce only minor irritation and itching, but in others it may cause redness, stinging or burning. Some people may develop an allergy to the scales or to the bacteria which surround them. This can lead to a more serious complication with inflammation of other eye tissues, particularly the cornea.
Blepharitis can begin in early childhood, producing "granulated eyelids" and continuing throughout life as a chronic condition, or it can develop later in life.
Itching, irritation, red eyes
"Gritty" or "sandy" feeling
Flakes on the lashes
Abnormality of the oily layer often exacerbates dry eye conditions.
Occasionally blepharitis predisposes to cysts as the glands block and swell.
The symptoms described above may not necessarily mean that you have blepharitis. However, if you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your eye doctor for a complete exam.
Medications: Many medication treatments are available for blepharitis, including antibiotics and steroid (cortisone) preparations in drop or ointment form. While cortisone medications often hasten relief of symptoms, long-term use can cause some harmful side effects. Once the acute phase of blepharitis is overcome (after several weeks), milder medications may be helpful, or none at all may be needed to control the eyelid inflammation. However, medications alone are not sufficient; the daily cleansing routine described below is essential.
Blepharitis can be controlled through a careful, regular program of lid care.
Note: Always consult your doctor before beginning a course of treatment.
To treat blepharitis, you should obtain the following materials:
A good "cosmetic" mirror.
Cotton balls, a clean washcloth or commercial lint-free pads;
Cotton-tipped applicators ("Q-tips");
Bicarbonate solution= ¼ teaspoon of Bicarbonate of soda in a cup full of
-----boiled water—mixed and allowed to cool to warm.
A small, clean glass or cup.
The cleansing routine below should be followed at least twice a day at first; perhaps less often as the condition improves.
Take the clean washcloth and wet it with warm (not boiling) water. Wring it out and place it over the closed eyelids for five minutes. This will help to soften the crusts and loosen the oily debris. Repeat as necessary to maintain the desired temperature.
If you are not using one of the ready-made eyelid cleansing solutions, prepare your own by filling the small glass or jar with warm(previously boiled) water and adding ¼ tsp of bicarbonat of soda.
Moisten a cotton ball, clean cloth, or lint-free pad in the commercial cleansing solution or the one you have prepared. Pull down the lower eyelid with your finger and then gently massage the area along the eyelashes for 15 to 30 seconds. Then close the eyes and massage the upper eyelids at the base of the eyelashes for 15 to 30 seconds. Your eyes should not be squeezed tightly shut, but closed softly as if you were sleeping.
Looking into the magnifying mirror, use a Q-tip moistened in the cleansing solution to gently brush the scales away from the eyelids. You can brush either in a horizontal or vertical direction, as long as the granular debris trapped in the eyelashes is effectively loosened and removed. This procedure should take approximately 30 seconds for each eyelid. Alternatively, lid scrubs can be performed with a warm washcloth in a similar fashion while showering.
Thoroughly rinse your eyes with cool clean water and pat gently dry with a clean towel. Discard any cleansing solution left in the small glass and rinse it clean. If medication has been prescribed, it should be applied to the eyes and/or eyelids along the lashes, following your ophthalmologist's instructions.
Blepharitis is a common and chronic condition for which there is often no cure. However, once the initial acute phase is controlled, vigorous lid hygiene and patient cooperation results in excellent control of the disease.
LIPIFLOW is the latest treatment available for blepharitis. Lipiflow effectively clears the eyelids of trapped debris that cause the symptoms of blepharitis and dry eye.
Lipiflow is available as an outpatient procedure and is performed together with an assessment of the glands in the eyelid margins (Meibomian glands).