Definition. 

Blepharitis was first described in the 19th century.  Blepharitis is characterized by inflammation of the eyelid margin. There are at least 70-80 million sufferers of this condition in the United States.  

There are a few causes of blepharitis:

  • Overgrowth of normal bacteria found on the eyelid skin​​

    • ​Bacterial overgrowth causes the production of a chemical substance that induces inflammation along the eyelid margins 

  • Clogged lash line oil glands (meibomian glands): 

    • Oil glands can become clogged with: dead skin, bacteria, make up & environmental debris.

    • Clogged oil glands leads to unhealthy tears that evaporate faster, causing dry eyes 

    • Clogged oil glands also lead to inflammation along the eyelid margins 

    • Over time inflammation will cause: scarring of the eyelids and misdirected lash growth

  • Allergies:

    • Allergic reactions to makeup, environmental allergies​​

  • Seborrheic dermatitis 

  • Rosecea 

It often is a chronic condition and can be difficult to treat. Blepharitis is the #1 cause of dry eyes. 

 

 

 

 
Signs and symptoms. 

The signs and symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Tearing 

  • Gritty sensation 

  • Itching eyelids

  • Burning 

 

 

  • Eyelash flakes

  • Crusting around eyelashes upon awakening 

  • Puffy eyelids 

 

 

Treatments. 

There are currently no FDA approved treatments for blepharitis. 

Physicians mostly reccommend treatments that revolve around self care.

The self care treatments include:

  • Applying warm compresses to the eyelid margin to open clogged meibomian glands

  • Cleaning the eyelid margin with a gentle cleanser 

  • Avoid wearing eye makeup  

In some cases physicians might prescribe:

1. Topical antibiotics as an off-label treatment 

2. Oral antibiotics can be used to stabilize oil gland secretions 

3. Topical steroids can be applied to the eyelid margin to decrease inflammation 

The goals of the treatments are:

  1. Reducing the amount of bacteria the skin

  2. Keeping the lash line skin clean and oil glands open 

  3. Keeping bacterial overgrowth in check and keeping the skin clean reduces the amount of inflammatory chemicals that are secreted in the eyes 

  4. By decreasing inflammation, eyes will feel healthier, more comfortable and less dry

 

It is important to remember that blepharitis is a chronic condition. There will be periods where one is comfortable and periods where the condition is exacerbated. By making the self care treatments part of  your daily routine is the way one can minimize exacerbations of this condition.