Getting on top of blepharitis

Jun 2, 2018

When dry eyes become a problem

Caption: Blepharitis before and after treatment

Photo courtesy of NZ National Eye Centre

Do you suffer from a common eye condition known as blepharitis? We look at how to recognise this problem and get on top of it.

Common symptoms of blepharitis include:

o   Burning or stinging eyes

o   Crusty debris or dandruff at the base of eyelashes

o   Irritated, watery eyes

o   Itchy eyelids, causing eye rubbing

o   Grittiness or a foreign body sensation

o   Contact lens discomfort, forcing many people to give up wearing contacts.

Causes

Blepharitis is is often linked to dry eye ‒ optometrists now think these two might be part of the same chronic eye process.

Blepharitis is typically caused by overgrowth of bacteria that live along the margins of the eyelids and at the base of the eyelashes. Over time, these bacteria build up and create a structure called a biofilm.

This biofilm becomes a toxic environment.

Bacteria in the eyelid biofilm also cause inflammation of meibomian glands in the eyelid margins, affecting the quality and quantity of tears in the eye. Tears contain natural antibodies, so fewer tears allows even more bacteria to grow in the eyelid biofilm. This makes the inflammation even worse, and can lead to further eye problems, like a stye forming.

Scientists are now looking at preventing dry eye through effectively treating blepharitis before patients become symptomatic.

Treatment

Your optometrist will be able to determine the cause of your symptoms. They might prescribe an at-home treatment called an eyelid scrub. Alternatively, your optometrist might perform one of these in-office treatments: mechanical lid margin debridement, thermal treatment or  meibomian gland expression.

There are several medicated eye drops and ointments available for the treatment of blepharitis.

Preventing blepharitis from coming back

As blepharitis is a chronic condition, it’s important to clean your eyelids daily to prevent the buildup of bacteria, biofilm and mites on the eyelid margin. A number of prescription and non-prescription lid scrub products can help with this.

At Greenlane, we have a variety of products to help keep blepharitis from coming back, which we’ll discuss in the next article.

Need more advice on blepharitis or other common eye conditions?  Please email Jenny at jenny@gp-optom.co.nz. Or pop on into our shop to take a look at the options; we’re here to help!

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