Blepharitis: Highlighting the Importance of Eyelid Health & Hygiene
Blepharitis is a very common inflammation of the eyelids, usually caused by a blockage of the meibomian glands. This uncomfortable condition is usually chronic and can develop due to a variety of factors, including an imbalance in the bacteria of the lids.
Regardless of the cause, eyelid hygiene can help prevent and treat blepharitis. Be sure to wash your eyelids and upper and lower lash lines every day with warm water and diluted baby shampoo or eyelid cleansers.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
- Stinging or burning in the eyes
- Crusty buildup or debris in the eyelashes
- Watery eyes
- Dry eyes
- Foreign body sensation
- Itchy eyelids
How is Dry Eye Related to Blepharitis?
Blepharitis and dry eye have sort of a “chicken-or-the-egg” situation going on. Doctors can’t seem to agree whether dry eye causes blepharitis, or blepharitis causes dry eye. In any case, it’s clear that the two are closely related.
Evaporative dry eye occurs when the meibomian glands are blocked, preventing them from creating a proper tear film. This type of blockage (meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD) is also closely related to blepharitis, causing a crusty buildup at the base of the eyelashes.
BlephEx is an in-office treatment designed to clean your eyelids with a small spinning sponge. Using a handheld device, your optometrists gently scrubs and exfoliates your upper and lower lids, including the lash line. This relatively simple procedure removes debris and prevents the buildup of a biofilm which acts as food for bacteria.
See & Be Seen is pleased to offer BlephEx treatments to our patients.
Because blepharitis is related to meibomian gland dysfunction, we often use LipiFlow to treat the condition. LipiFLow uses gentle heat and pressure to soften the meibum and help express any blockages from the meibomian glands.
Some antibiotic eye drops and ointments can be effective in treating blepharitis. These treatments need to be prescribed by a doctor and aren’t available over the counter. Medications are usually prescribed in cases where it looks like you’re suffering from an eye infection in addition to blepharitis.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blepharitis
Blepharitis usually develops as a result of an excess of bacteria that lives along the upper and lower lash line. As the bacteria multiply, they create something called a biofilm, which is similar to the plaque that builds up on your teeth.
The biofilm acts as food for eyelash mites and can cause them to grow out of control. The mites can make the eyelid inflammation worse.
Eyelid hygiene is key. The best way to prevent blepharitis is to clean and gently exfoliate your eyelids every day. Lay a hot (not scalding) washcloth over your eyes, and softly rub your eyelids. This should help soften the meibum and express any blockages from your meibomian glands.
Next, you should moisten a clean cotton swab or cloth with cleanser. You could use something very gentle like baby shampoo, or you could invest in a cleanser designed to clean eyelids. Lightly rub the swab along your upper and lower lash line. Rinse your eyes with warm water, then repeat the process one more time for best results.
Blepharitis symptoms may come and go, but chances are, they’ll usually return at some point. For blepharitis to go away, you’ll need to remove the source of the infection. If you take excellent care of your eyes, you may be able to get rid of your symptoms without a doctor’s help. However, it’s best to let your doctor decide whether an in-office treatment or an at-home routine would be most effective for your case.
In addition to warm compresses and eye massages, you can try bolstering your eye hygiene routine. Dietary changes might make a difference as well. Try eating foods high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts, or leafy green vegetables. Omega-3 supplements can help you increase your intake without altering your diet.
Because blepharitis is linked to bacteria and debris along the lash line, people with skin conditions like rosacea or eczema are more likely to develop blepharitis. Blepharitis can occur in patients of all ages.