The condition where one develops inflammation of the eyelids is called as blepharitis. It can affect both eyes and is a very annoying as well as discomforting problem. However, it rarely leads to anything serious.
Blepharitis is a common condition that occurs due to a bacterial infection or dandruff of the scalp. It can occur in people of all ages and is not contagious.
Types of Blepharitis
There are two types of blepharitis. These include:
Anterior blepharitis: This occurs outside of the eyelid, near the eyelashes. It is usually caused due to a bacterial and sometimes viral infection. When left untreated, the swelling can increase and lead to inward or outward turned eyelids. This could lead to vision problems as well as damage to the cornea.
Posterior blepharitis: This occurs on the inner side of the eyelid and touches the eyeball. This condition occurs when the tiny oil glands called themeibomian gland dysfunction. It leads to thickening and crusting of the eyelids. When the oil glands become clogged, it leads to stye or chalazion.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
Symptoms of bleparitis include:
- Reddening of eyes
- Watery eyes
- Burning sensation in the eye
- Greasy appearing eyelids
- Flaky skin around the eyelids
- Itchy eyelids
- Crusting on the eyelids after waking up from sleep
- Sticking of eyelids
- Excessive blinking
- Abnormally growing, that is, inward or outward growing eyelids
- Loss of eyelashes
Causes of Blepharitis
The exact cause of blepharitis is still unclear. However, factors that lead to blepharitis include:
- Seborrheic dermatitis, that is, dandruff on the scalp and eyebrows
- Dysfunction of oil glands in the eye
- Eye allergies to contact lens, eye makeup or eye medications
- Bacterial infection
- Head lice or eyelash mites
- Use of certain acne medications isotretinoin
- Improper cleaning of the face and eyes
Diagnosis of Blepharitis
Blepharitis is diagnosed after the doctor examines the eye, that includes the eye lid, skin and eyelash appearance. The lid margins, base of the eyelashes and the meibomian glands are examined under bright light and magnification.
Based on the symptoms the different types of blepharitis are differentiated. This includes:
- Seborrheicblepharitis: The patient develops greasy scales or flakes at the base of the eyelashes. One also has mild redness on the eyelids.
- Staphyloccalblepharitis: patients with this type of blepharitis have sticking of eyelids, thickening of the lid margins and misdirected eyelashes.
- Ulcerative blepharitis: The patient’s eyelashes will develop hard crusts and develops ulcers when removed. It can also lead to loss of eyelashes, chronic tear. In severe cases, the cornea also becomes inflamed.
- Meibomianblepharitis: The oil glands are blocked, eyelids turn red and tears appear foamy.
The doctor may even take a swab of the eye to collect a sample of the oil or crust. It will be analyzed for bacteria, fungi or allergy leading to blepharitis.
Treatment for Blepharitis
The treatment of blepharitis includes cleaning of the affected area. One should use a warm washcloth and clean the eye. Make sure you remove any debris or crusts around the eye.
The doctor may suggest antibiotic creams, gels or drops that need to be applied to the eye. This will help reduce the infection. Artificial tears or steroid eye drops wll be prescribed to reduce the inflammation. Underlying conditions like dandruff, rosacea, etc. will be treated to avoid recurrence of blepharitis.
Blepharitis is a common condition that can be treated easily. If you develop swelling or inflammation of the eyelids, visit your doctor today.
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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: March 29, 2015