What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a condition, usually caused by a bacterial infection where the edges of the eyelids become red and swollen. It is a long term condition but there is a range of treatments available to control it. If you have sore eye lids, call into your local opticians for advice. The eye care practitioner can work out what may be causing the problem and recommend the best treatment for you.

What are the signs of blepharitis?

If you or someone you care for has red, itchy sore eyelids, this may be a sign of an eye condition called blepharitis. It can cause dry eyes leading to a gritty or burning sensation, and in severe cases make you sensitive to light. You may have crusty eyelashes and/or swollen lid margins. Some people can find it affects the growth of eyelashes. Most commonly it occurs in both eyes, and symptoms tend to be worst on waking.

What are the causes of blepharitis?

There are a number of different causes of blepharitis. It can be caused by bacteria or a virus. In some people it causes the glands that produce oil to lubricate the eye  to stop working well. In other people the irritation is due to seborrheic dermatitis, a skin condition that creates scaling and flaking. Yeast and fungi which feed on oils in the skin also may lead to seborrheic dermatitis. Most recently, scientists have identified microscopic mites (demodex folliculorum) which are associated with blepharitis.

What is the treatment for blepharitis?

It can take time to resolve problems associated with blepharitis. The first thing to do is to consult an optical practitioner who is familiar with the condition and can help determine the cause. A lid cleaning routine may be recommended, using a warm compress or heated eye bag to encourage the glands to produce more oils to lubricate your eyes, then gently massaging the lids, and finally cleaning your eyelids. Some people with severe long term blephairitis may benefit from antibiotics, while others will be helped by treatment that removes the demodex mites that can cause the irritation. Some practitioners recommend products including those containing tea tree oil, while an anti-parasitic gel containing metronidazole also has shown effectiveness as a treatment. Omega 3 supplements have been shown to reduce the symptoms of blepharitis and eye dryness.

There is more information about treating blepharitis from the NHS here.

Where can I find more information on Blepharitis?

If you or someone you know has blepharitis and you want more information here check out these links: