Blepharitis is a common eye problem that causes your eyelids to become inflamed. It commonly affects the part of your eyelid where your eyelashes grow. Complete recovery from blepharitis may be difficult because the condition tends to recur. As a result, this eye problem usually becomes chronic and commonly requires long-term care. Fortunately, it does not usually cause permanent visual damage.
Blepharitis has two types: the anterior and posterior blepharitis.
Anterior blepharitis occurs when the outside front portion of the eyelid is involved. This is the area where your eyelashes are attached. This type can be caused by bacterial infection (e.g. Staphylococcus) and scalp dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis).
Posterior blepharitis affects the inner portion of your eyelid, the eyelid part where it is in contact with your eye. Like the anterior blepharitis, posterior blepharitis can be caused by seborrheic dermatitis and acne rosacea-a skin condition characterized by redness and inflammation of the skin.
Symptoms of blepharitis may include:
• Burning sensation in your eye/s
• Watery eyes
• Itching in your eyelids
• Redness and swelling in your eyelids
• Redness of your eyes
• Crusting of your eyelashes upon awakening
• Photophobia or sensitivity to light
Because blepharitis often becomes chronic, long-term and ongoing care is often necessary. For uncomplicated blepharitis, keeping your lids clean and free of crusts may be all that is needed to manage your symptoms. The National Eye Institute (NEI) recommends application of warm compresses on your eyelids to loosen the formed crusts. Use a cotton swab dipped in a mixture of water and baby shampoo to lightly scrub your eyelid. Use warm water to rinse your eyes.
Severe cases of blepharitis may require medications. Your eye care professional may prescribe antibiotics or steroid eyedrops to help control inflammation in your eyes and lids.
If you have scalp dandruff, the NEI also recommends use of a anti-dandruff shampoo.
Your doctor may also recommend other treatment options to manage the underlying cause.
Blepharitis can sometimes lead to complications including:
Sty: A sty is a red tender bump on the eyelid. It can be caused by an acute infection of the oil glands in the eyelids.
Chalazion: The condition can occur after the development of a stye. Chalazion is a firm lump that develops due to the oil glands of the eyelids becoming inflamed. The lump is usually painless. However, if it becomes infected, it may also cause redness and pain in the eyelids
Chronic conjunctivitis: Blepharitis may lead to recurring cycles of conjunctivitis, also called pink eye.
National Eye Institute. Facts about Blepharitis. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/blepharitis/blepharitis.asp. Accessed on October 21, 2010.
MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine. Rosacea. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/rosacea.html. Accessed on October 21, 2010.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Questions and Answers about Rosacea. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rosacea/default.asp. Accessed on October 21, 2010.