Anterior Blepharitis Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
Anterior Blepharitis Definition
According to the American Optometric Association, blepharitis is “an inflammation of the eyelids in which they become red, irritated and itchy with dandruff like scales form on the eyelids’. More specifically, anterior blepharitis “occurs at the outside front edge of the eyelid where the eyelashes attach”.
Blepharitis is not contagious and can affect anyone at any age. However, it can be more common in those with underlying skin conditions such as rosacea, atopy, and seborrheic dermatitis. As well, it can affect those with underlying eye conditions such as dry eyes, ectropion and entropion, infectious and inflammatory conjunctivitis, and chalazia or styes.
Anterior Blepharitis Causes
The two common causes of anterior blepharitis are bacteria (usually Staphylococcus aureus) and scalp or eyebrow dandruff.
Bacteria living on the face and eyelids can over-populate, causing the eyes and eyelids to react negatively.
Other causes include allergies and eyelid mites, or demodex.
Anterior Blepharitis Symptoms
Symptoms of anterior blepharitis include:
- A foreign body sensation (something in the eye)
- Excessive tearing
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Red and swollen eyelids
- Blurry vision
- Eyelash loss
- Dry eye
- Crusty eyelashes
How is it Diagnosed?
Your eye doctor is the best place to get a diagnosis. They will diagnose you through patient history, a comprehensive examination of the front of your eyes and eyelids, including examining the eyelid structure, looking at your tears, and testing the oily secretions on your eyelids. There are a few different types of blepharitis that can be diagnosed:
- Staphyloccal blepharitis: mildly sticking eyelids, thickened lid margins, eyelash loss, eyelashes in random directions
- Seborrheic blepharitis: more of a greasy flaking or scales at the eyelash base, red and swollen eyelids
- Ulcerative blepharitis: presence of hard, matted crusted eyelashes and removing these causes bleeding. May experience excessive tearing.
- Meibomian gland dysfunction/posterior blepharitis: oil glands inside the eyelids are blocked. Lack of tear production, redness and swelling of the eyelids.
Anterior Blepharitis Treatment
For treating anterior blepharitis there are a series of measures that can be taken:
- Keep your hands and face clean
- Keep your eyelids clean with a hypochlorous acid cleanser
- Loosen debris around the eye with a warm compress
- Massage the area around the eye to loosen the oil that is clogging the glands
- Tea-tree oil based shampoo for the scalp
- Possibly discontinuing makeup and contact lens use if symptoms persist
Prescription medications for more serious cases may include
- Antibiotic eye drops, eye gel, or eye ointment such as Azithromycin drops and Erythromycin ointment
- An antibiotic oral prescription such as Doxycycline
- Steroid eye drops for reducing inflammation
Unfortunately, there is no cure for blepharitis because it is a chronic condition. However, by following the measures mentioned above, you can reduce the symptoms that could interfere with your daily activities.
Dr. Travis Zigler
SeeEO of Eye Love