Is There Surgery for Blepharitis? Plus 5 Blepharitis Surgery Alternatives
What is Blepharitis?
An inflammation of the eyelids, blepharitis is something that is prevalent all over the world. It most often occurs due to an overgrowth of staph bacteria, but there are other causes as well. Skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis and demodex eyelash mites can also contribute to this condition, but blepharitis is something that can be managed well. If caught early, blepharitis can be easily managed so that it does not cause further issues, such as dry eye disease.
Those with blepharitis may notice some of the following symptoms:
Crustiness or flaking on the eyelashes
Redness of the eyes or rims of the eyelids
Dry or gritty feeling
Eye or eyelid irritation in general
Watering of the eyes
Is There Surgery for Blepharitis?
When we treat blepharitis, many of the treatments can be done at home. Treatments that we’ll discuss a bit later, including eyelid hygiene, are easily performed daily and can help soothe the symptoms. But we’re often asked if there is surgery for this condition. For most people, there is no blepharitis surgery that will help them. There are in-office procedures that can be done, such as LipiFlow, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), and BlephEx. However, these are not surgeries.
The only surgery that may be of benefit for someone with blepharitis and subsequent dry eye disease would be blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery. The reason this may be beneficial for a small number of people is because those people either have eyelids that turn outward, and do not rest on their eyeball as they should, or turn inward, which causes the eyelashes to rake against the eyeball. However, while it may help dry eye symptoms in some people, this is not a surgery specifically for blepharitis.
5 Blepharitis Surgery Alternatives... What is the Best Treatment for Blepharitis?
Our number one recommendation for all patients with blepharitis is eyelid hygiene. If you don’t already have a great eyelid hygiene routine, look into starting one as soon as possible. You can read more about Dr. Jenna’s eyelid hygiene routine here. The basics are as follows:
Remove your makeup with an oil based makeup remover, and wash your face with a tea tree based soap. Tea tree essential oil is great for fighting demodex and other inflammation that can contribute to blepharitis. Bonus points if your makeup remover also contains tea tree oil!
Then, cleanse your eyelids with a hypochlorous acid cleanser. This natural cleanser is simple to use and is very effective at eliminating microorganisms that may be contributing to your blepharitis condition. Simply spray the solution onto closed eyelids, rub it in, and let it dry. No need to rinse!
Warm Compress for Blepharitis
A warm compress eye mask can be a nice addition to your eyelid hygiene routine. We recommend using it after washing your face, but before using an eyelid cleanser. Warm compresses will help heat up the oil within the meibomian glands, allowing it to flow like olive oil (vs. be stagnant like hardened butter). When done consistently, this can be a great symptom reliever. However, note that if you have ocular rosacea, it may be best to skip warm compresses, since they can make symptoms worse in some cases.
NuLids or BlephEx
When we talk about the overabundance of bacteria on our eyelids, we inevitably need to talk about biofilm. When bacteria proliferate, they begin to form biofilm. Basically, biofilm creates a fortress around bacteria and allows it to continue to thrive, giving off harmful toxins in the process. The hard thing about biofilm is that simply cleansing your eyelids isn’t going to tackle the whole picture, because it won’t penetrate the biofilm that’s already there. However, there are great ways of doing so!
For home use, the NuLids device (NuSight Medical)is a wonderful tool for removing biofilm from the comfort of your own home. Using disposable tips, this device is simple to use and can remove biofilm in as little as one minute per day. If the thought of doing this yourself scares you, BlephEx is available through many eye doctors’ offices, and it’s a great in-office alternative for removing biofilm. Read more about BlephEx here. Both devices are great, both companies are great, and we recommend using one or the other.
We could discuss green smoothies all day long, diving into the benefits you’ll notice. For nearly everyone we meet with dry eye disease or blepharitis, we recommend replacing your current breakfast with a green smoothie. Why is this? Because most people are eating horrible food for breakfast that’s doing nothing but increasing inflammation in your body. Cereal, milk, bacon, pancakes, you name it...all of it can be horrible and contribute to inflammation in the body.
When you replace these foods with a green smoothie, you’re not only ensuring hydration first thing in the morning, but you’re also making sure you’re packing in tons of antioxidants and carotenoids. Both are great for fighting oxidative stress and inflammation. Even if you find yourself sensitive to something in the green smoothies we recommend, there are so many ways to make a healthy green smoothie that it’s almost impossible for them to be harmful if you follow our green smoothie chart.
As a last resort, and after all of the above alternative treatments have been tried, steroid eye drops are a great option for knocking down inflammation fast. We use these when someone is incredibly red, inflamed, and miserable, and they usually work quite well when prescribed and used correctly. Steroid eye drops encompass the entire inflammatory cascade and really knock out inflammation for most people, at least getting them back to a healthier baseline to begin all of the alternative blepharitis treatments above. If your eyes are severely inflamed, talk to your doctor about topical steroids today.
How long does blepharitis take to clear up?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for blepharitis, but it can be well managed. When using proper eyelid hygiene, blepharitis can be controlled in a matter of weeks, and sometimes the patient will feel relief within a few days. The key is daily eyelid hygiene, which can help keep the symptoms at bay and help prevent progression into something more serious.
What triggers blepharitis?
The most common causes of blepharitis include dandruff on the scalp and overgrowth of staph bacteria. Many times, these things will be present but no blepharitis will be noted until the immune system is compromised (even by something as simple as stress). This condition is largely a build-up of issues over time that eventually become symptomatic for the patient
What does blepharitis look like?
Often, those with blepharitis will notice flakes or crusting on the eyelashes. This may or may not be visible with the naked eye and a mirror, but it’s likely your eye doctor will be able to see it with their high-powered microscope (called a slit lamp). Blepharitis can also cause red eyes and eyelids, often leaving the sufferer with red, raw eyelid margins.
Is Baby Shampoo good for blepharitis?
Absolutely not! Baby shampoo contains multiple synthetic ingredients and detergents which will throw off the pH balance of your eyelids. Many of the ingredients can contribute to eye allergies (including Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate, Phenoxyethanol, and fragrance). If you’re considering baby shampoo or have been told by your doctor to use it, just don’t. There are better eyelid hygiene products out there, like hypochlorous acid.
Blepharitis can really be devastating if left untreated. Blepharitis can lead to meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), dry eye disease, styes and chalazia, loss of eyelashes, corneal ulceration, and vision loss in severe cases. The same goes for meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye disease left untreated.
Is blepharitis an autoimmune disease?
Blepharitis is often connected with autoimmune disease, although it is not in itself an autoimmune disease. For example, those with both blepharitis and dry mouth may eventually be diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. Blepharitis is usually due to staph bacteria, but as we’ve already discussed, there are so many conditions that can be intertwined and contribute to this condition in one way or another.