What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common eye condition characterised by the chronic inflammation of the eyelid. It usually occurs on the base of the eyelashes. Eyelids will feel itchy and have a reddish pink appearance. The condition is usually the result of oil glands in the eyelid becoming blocked or bacterial infections. Alternatively, in some cases, it is the result of allergies. Blepharitis isn’t contagious, and serious complications from the condition are rare, although in some cases it can lead to other conditions such as dry eyes.

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

Symptoms may include: a burning sensation in the eyes, itchy, sore and red eyelids with the feeling that they are sticking together, increased eye sensitivity, and in some severe cases, loss of eyelashes. The condition typically affects both eyes, but one eye can be much more affected than the other.

Unfortunately, for most people blepharitis is a long-term condition. Sufferers will experience repeated episodes, separated by periods without symptoms. However, there are some things you can do to combat the symptoms and offer relief for your eyes.

What causes blepharitis?

Parasitic infections, rosacea, herpes simplex dermatitis and contact dermatitis are just a few of the conditions that can lead to blepharitis.

There are three main types of blepharitis:

Anterior blepharitis

This type causes the base of your lashes to become inflamed and can be caused by one of two things: staphylococcus bacteria or seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Staphylococcus bacteria are harmless and live on the surface of the skin of most people, although it’s not completely known why they cause inflammation on the eyelids.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes skin to become oily or flaky, irritating the eyelids and subsequently causing the meibomian glands to block.

Posterior blepharitis

The Meibomian glands can be found behind the base of your lashes, along the margins of the eyelids. Posterior blepharitis affects the Meibomian glands due to inflammation, usually by debris and skin flakes causing a blockage.

Mixed blepharitis

This is a combination of both anterior and posterior blepharitis.

How is blepharitis treated?

While it cannot usually be cured, the symptoms of blepharitis can be kept at bay by a simple daily eyelid cleaning routine. A warm compress will make the oil produced by the glands around the eyes breakdown.

If this doesn’t reduce your symptoms, then it’s highly advisable to visit your GP or eye doctor, who may prescribe you antibiotic eye drops.

Quick links:

How to use eye drops
Do I need an eye test?



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