Your eyelid is itchy, irritated and red, while dandruff-like scales appear on the lashes. Does this sound familiar? This condition is called Blepharitis. Blepharitis is inflammation on your eyelids, which is usually caused by bacteria. The common eye disorder affects people of all ages.
It leaves the person feeling uncomfortable, though it doesn't usually cause damage permanently to one's eyes if treated properly. A common question that we hear: “Is blepharitis contagious?” It is NOT, fortunately!
Blepharitis can be divided into two separate conditions:
1. Anterior blepharitis: This appears at the eyelid's outside front edge, where the lashes are known to be attached.
2. Posterior blepharitis: This occurs at the eyelid's inner edge known to be in contact with the eye’s surface. This is also known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
Those suffering from blepharitis may experience a gritty sensation, dry eyes, itching, excessive redness, and swollen eyelids. Blepharitis, since caused by inflammation, can lead to other eye tissues such as blurred vision, misdirected lashes, and dry eyes. Rubbing or touching the affected area can lead to secondary infection, so try to avoid this.
Blepharitis Treatment and Home Remedies
Those with blepharitis are advised not to touch the affected area directly, but it is best to keep good hygiene in mind.
It has been shown that good hygiene goes a long way to control blepharitis. Habits like making use of warm compressesand scrubbing the eyelids with a hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser can be great places to start. Also, wash the face and scalp regularly, preferably with a tea tree oil soap.
If blepharitis is more severe and not going away with the home remedies discussed above, medications like antibiotics can be prescribed (although they're usually not needed unless an infection, like a stye, is present).
Anterior blepharitis is known to be caused by seborrhea – excessive oil produced around the eyelashes or from staphylococcal bacteria.
These bacteria are usually found on the eyelids and face, but when they are excessive, or if the eyelid doesn't react well to the presence of the bacteria, inflammation may occur, which is blepharitis.
Anterior blepharitis can also be exacerbated by mite/demodex infestation on the lashes, or from allergies. These causes are less common, but they do occur.
On the other hand, posterior blepharitis comes from the eyelids' meibomian glands producing oil, or meibum, irregularly, which is called meibomian gland dysfunction. Posterior blepharitis can occur from conditions like scalp dandruff, poor diet, and rosacea.
How Does Blepharitis Get Diagnosed?
A comprehensive eye examination is done to diagnose blepharitis. During the testing, special focus is placed on the eyelids.
Aspects of the comprehensive eye examination are:
Looking at the patient history to view if the patient has symptoms or general health problems that may cause or be a result of blepharitis.
Externally examining the eyelid, looking at things such as the skin texture, lid structure, and eyelash appearance.
Evaluating the eyelashes' base, eyelid margins, as well as the openings of the meibomian glands, making use of a slit lamp that has magnification and bright light.
Evaluating the quality and quantity of tears to view if there is any abnormality, sometimes assessed as a tear break-up time (TBUT).
With the appearance of the eyelid margins, an optometrist or ophthalmologist can easily pinpoint the kind of blepharitis you have!
Those suffering from staphyloccal blepharitis (anterior blepharitis) are known to show thickened eyelid margins, sticky, matting eyelids, especially in the morning, as well as misdirected and missing eyelashes.
Sufferers of Seborrheic blepharitis are known to have scales formed at the eyelashes' base, as well as a bit of redness on the eyelids.
Sufferers of ulcerative blepharitis are known to have hard crusts that are matted surrounding the lashes. When you remove the crusts, it can bleed and leaves small sores. They may face chronic tearing, eyelash loss, as well as distortion on the front edges of the eyelids. When the case is extreme such as this, the cornea then becomes inflamed as well.
Sufferers of MGD (posterior blepharitis) usually have poor quality of tears, the oil glands in the eyelids become blocked, and the lining of the eyelid turns red.
Treatment for blepharitis depends on its type. One important aspect of treating various kinds of blepharitis is ensuring the eyelids are clean and kept free from crusts.
Making a habit of your eyelid cleansing regimen is key. Using a hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser, twice daily, can be one of the most effective ways to keep your eyelids clean and to help reduce the bacteria load.
Regularly using warm compressescan go a long way to loosen the hard crusts.
If it comes with a bacterial infection, your doctor can prescribe an antibiotic.
If you find out that your eyelid glands are blocked, massage your eyelids to wipe out the oil in the glands of the eyelids after a warm compress is used.
Making use of tea tree oil soap regularly on your face and scalp helps as well.
Stop use of eye makeup while undergoing treatment. This is to ensure that lid hygiene is not compromised.
Stop wearing contact lenses until the treatment is over, as contact lenses can promote bacteria growth and inflammation.
Blepharitis is, unfortunately, not curable but can be maintained with proper eyelid hygiene such as those tips above.