Eyelid inflammation; Meibomian gland dysfunction
Blepharitis is manifest by inflamed, irritated, itchy, and reddened eyelids. It most often occurs where the eyelashes grow. Dandruff-like debris builds up at the base of the eyelashes as well.
The exact cause of blepharitis is unknown. It is thought to be due to:
Blepharitis is more likely to be seen in people with:
You may feel like you have sand or dust in your eye when you blink. Sometimes, the eyelashes may fall out. The eyelids may become scarred if the condition continues long-term.
The health care provider can most often make the diagnosis by looking at the eyelids during an eye exam. Special photos of the glands that produce oil for the eyelids can be taken to see if they are healthy or not.
Cleaning the edges of the eyelid every day will help remove excess bacteria and oil. Your provider might recommend using baby shampoo or special cleansers. Using an antibiotic ointment on the eyelid or taking antibiotic pills may help treat the problem. It may also help to take fish oil supplements.
If you have blepharitis:
A device has recently been developed that can warm and massage the eyelids to increase the flow of oil from the glands. The role of this device in treatment of blepharitis remains unclear.
A drug containing hypochlorous acid, which is sprayed onto the eyelids is helpful in certain cases of blepharitis, especially when rosacea is also present.
If Demodex is suspected as the cause, tea tree oil applied to the lids by your provider can be helpful; a new prescription medicine may soon be available.
The outcome is most often good with treatment. You may need to keep the eyelid clean to prevent the problem from coming back. Continuing treatment will ease redness and help make your eyes more comfortable.
Styes and chalazia are more common in people with blepharitis.
Contact your provider if symptoms get worse or do not improve after several days of carefully cleaning your eyelids.
Cleaning the eyelids carefully will help reduce the chances of getting blepharitis. Treat skin conditions that may add to the problem.
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Review Date: 8/22/2022
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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