Blepharitis literally means “inflammation of the eyelid margins”. It is a very common condition and can lead to various eye symptoms. If often reflects the patient’s underlying skin condition.
- Seborrhoea: This skin condition is similar to “dandruff”. The lid margin particularly at the lash margins are covered by “crust and scale”.
- Skin infections: Skin infections like “golden staph” and other bacteria can contribute towards this.
- Meibomianitis: This literally means increased oily secretions from the meibomian glands. The “oily foam” can irritate the eye.
Often blepharitis co-exists with dry eye and share many similar symptoms. These include:
- Blurry vision
IMPORTANT: There is no cure for blepharitis. Often is reflects the patient’s underlying skin condition. Treatment is directed at minimising its effects on the eye.
The regimen includes:
- Hot compresses: Dip a face washer / towel in warm to hot water – then apply it to the eyelids (eyes closed) for one minute. Massage the lids in a direction perpendicular to the lid margin. This softens the oily secretions and encourages flow through the meibomian glands.
- Lid scrubs: The simplest way here involves baby shampoo. Mix 1 part baby shampoo with 4 parts of water. Use a cotton bud to clean the lid edge as well as the base of the eyelids.
- Artificial Tears: This helps with dry eyes and also soothes.
- Topical Steroids: In severe cases, a weak steroid can be used for a short period to reduce the induced inflammation. Long term steroid use is avoided as there is increased risk of glaucoma and cataract formation from this.
- Antibiotics: In some cases oral antibiotics can be prescribed. A class of antibiotics called the Tetracyclines have been shown to reduce infection as well as alter the composition of the oily secretions. This may be used for a short period.
TAKE HOME POINTS:
- This is a highly common condition.
- The course is relapsing and remitting. Treatment regimen needs to be maintained to minimise its effects. Treatment does not cure the problem.