Feb 7, 2014: Blepharitis
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids, occurring particularly at the lid margins. It is a
common disorder and may be associated with a lowgrade bacterial infection or a generalized skin
condition. Blepharitis occurs in two forms: anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis. Anterior
blepharitis affects the front of the eyelids, usually near the eyelashes. The two most common
causes of anterior blepharitis are bacteria and a skin disorder called seborrheic dermatitis, which
causes itchy, flaky red skin. Posterior blepharitis affects the inner surface of the eyelid that comes
in contact with the eye. It is usually caused by problems with the oil (meibomian)glands in the lid
margin. Posterior blepharitis is more common than the anterior variety and often affects people
with a rosacea skin type.
Blepharitis signs and symptoms
Regardless of which type of blepharitis you have, you will probably have such symptoms as eye
irritation, burning, tearing, foreign body sensation, crusty debris (in the lashes, in the corner of the
eyes or on the lids), dryness and red eyelid margins. It is important to be seen by an eye doctor
and get treatment. If your blepharitis is bacterial, possible longterm effects are thickened lid
margins, dilated and visible capillaries, misdirected eyelashes, loss of eyelashes and a loss of the
normal position of the eyelid margin against the eye. Blepharitis can also lead to styes and
infections or erosions of the cornea.
Blepharitis can be difficult to manage because it tends to recur. Treatment depends on the type
of blepharitis you have. It may include applying warm compresses to the eyelids, cleaning your
eyelids frequently, using an antibiotic and/or massaging the lids to help express oil from the
meibomian glands. If your blepharitis makes your eyes feel dry, artificial tears or lubricating
ointments may also be recommended. In some cases, antibacterial or steroid eye drops or
ointments may be prescribed.
Always wash your hands before and after touching your eyelids when treating blepharitis.
Your eye doctor will provide instructions on the products and techniques to use to relieve
symptoms, and get your blepharitis under control. Thereafter, a daily regimen of lid hygiene is
helpful in preventing recurrences of blepharitis. There is some evidence to suggest that taking a
daily flax seed oil supplement that contains omega3 fatty acids may help prevent or reduce the
severity of posterior blepharitis. Be sure to discuss any supplement use with your doctor. Because
blepharitis tends to be chronic, expect to keep up therapy for a prolonged period of time to keep it