Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelash follicles, causing the eyelid margins, or rims, to become red and swollen. It is a common condition which can develop at any age, but is more common in young children and people over 50.
Most people experience repeated episodes followed by periods with no symptoms. It is not possible to catch blepharitis from someone else who has it.
Symptoms of blepharitis include:
- Eyelids that are red, inflamed or puffy.
- Eyes that feel itchy, dry, sore or gritty.
- Frothy or oily deposits in your tears.
- Sticky eyelids; especially first thing on waking.
- Increased sensitivity to bright light.
- Dandruff-like crusts appearing on the eyelashes.
Blepharitis is more common in people aged over 50, but can develop at any age. As we get older, the small glands at the lid margins can become blocked more easily. The tears then contain less lubricants, making the eyes feel gritty.
Blepharitis can be caused by a number of factors, such as:
- Bacterial infections.
- Dysfunctional glands in the eyelids.
- Localised complications from skin conditions, such as dermatitis.
- Exposure to chemicals, fumes, smoke or other pollutants/irritants.
- Poor hygiene when using cosmetic beauty products.
Blepharitis is usually a low-level but chronic inflammation. Many people experience periods of time with no symptoms, however it does usually come back.
Your Optometrist can usually spot the signs of blepharitis by looking closely at the front surface of your eyes, especially at the eyelids and surrounding area. The first-line treatment in managing blepharitis is a dedicated lid hygiene regime.
Symptoms can be reduced by:
- Using blepharitis eyelid cleaning solutions, gels or wipes as advised by your Optometrist.
- Warm compresses, eye masks or eye bags placed against the eyelids can help loosen crusts and soften the waxy build up from within the glands.
- Avoiding using eye make-up (particularly mascara and eyeliner) until symptoms have cleared.
- Make-up will need replacing as it is likely to have become contaminated.
- Severe cases may need antibiotics or tear supplements.
A good eyelid hygiene regime will reduce the symptoms and help prevent them. Your Optometrist can give you further advice on treating blepharitis. However, it is a condition that can recur after treatment.
We recommend you have an eye test at least every two years regardless of symptoms and/or conditions.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, please make an appointment with the optical expert at your nearest Vision Express store.