While blepharitis is quite a common disease of the eye, it can be difficult to find an effective long-term blepharitis treatment.
What Is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common bacterial infection of the eyelids. Symptoms include dry, itching, scratchy, gritty and red eyes with redness, crusting and/or swelling and inflammation of the eyelid. Photophobia or sensitivity to light may be another symptom.
There are two ways in which the condition can present:
– Anterior where the outside of the eyelid surrounding the lashes is infected.
– Posterior where the inside of the eyelids and the meibomian glands are infected resulting in reduced lubrication of the eye.
Most often, both anterior and posterior blepharitis present at the same time.
If any of the above symptoms are present, it is advisable to get a diagnosis from a medical practitioner as soon as possible. These symptoms may point to other eye conditions that require different treatments.
3. Blepharitis Treatment
Treatment is largely dependent on the severity of the condition as well as the cause. Severity ranges from mild, moderate to severe. Causes may include:
– Demodex infestation (increased number of mites that are naturally present in the eyelashes)
– Clinical dandruff of the eyelashes
– Hormonal imbalance
– Misdirected eyelash growth
– Other health conditions that could exacerbate the symptoms.
For mild blepharitis, treatment involves cleaning and cleansing of the eyelids to remove excess bacteria. Normally, a clean, damp and warm washcloth is held over the eyelids for 30 seconds to soften and remove crusting and clear the lids. In some cases, a doctor may recommend the use of baby shampoo to clean the eyelid. Applying gentle pressure will encourage the glands to produce oils to lubricate the eye. Saltwater scrubs may also be helpful. Rinse after cleaning.
For moderate blepharatis with a posterior presentation, LipiFlow treatment may be recommended. The procedure heats the glands in the eye which are then “milked to release oils. In the case of a hormonal imbalance, a testosterone cream may be prescribed to apply topically to the affected area.
For severe cases, oral and topical antibiotics to kill the bacterial infection may be prescribed. These are normally long term courses and may require multiple doses in order to resolve the problem. Steroids are an effective treatment but come with side-effects that may be detrimental. Antihistamines may be prescribed for allergy related blepharitis.
In cases where misdirected or ingrown eyelashes are the problem, surgery may be recommended.
Alternative treatments that may be beneficial include:
– Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties, is antimicrobial and disinfects the eyelids, each of which fight the cause and symptoms of blepharitis.
– Gentle compression of the eyelids will help the glands express the necessary lubricating oils to help combat the symptoms.
– Blinking will stimulate the glands into action.
– Application of heat (as described above for mild cases) is essential for alleviating symptoms.
Early detection and diagnosis of blepharitis is important in order to delay the progression of the condition, reduce the symptoms or resolve the problem effectively.