What is Blepharitis ?
Blepharitis refers to a condition which involves the inflammation of the eyelids, typically the region where the eyelashes grow. The condition occurs due to malfunctioning oil glands on the eyelids. This results in irritated, itchy and inflamed eyelids. The disease is a chronic disease which is difficult to treat. While it does not cause any permanent damage to the eyesight, it can often be a very irritating and uncomfortable condition.
Causes of Blepharitis :
Blepharitis can be caused by a number of factors. They may be a one or a combination of several factors which include:
- Infection caused by bacteria
- Oil glands of the eyelids malfunctioning
- Dandruff in the eyebrows and scalp
- A condition known as Rosacea which causes redness of the face
- Allergies to certain medications
- Lice and mites present in the eyelashes
Symptoms of the Disease :
- Reddening of the eyes and eyelids.
- Flaking of skin around the eyelashes.
- Crust formation in the corner of the eyes especially when waking up.
- Infection around the eyelids.
- Itching of the eyes
- Sensation of foreign particles in the eyes
- Little particles or debris in tears
Signs of the Disease :
If the inflammation of the eyes persists despite a good hygiene and regular cleaning of the eyes and surrounding areas, it may be a sign of Blepharitis. Other signs of the disease include:
- Sensitivity to bright light
- Loss of eyelashes
- Need for frequent blinking
- Unnecessarily watery eyes
- Uncomfortable itching and redness which does not subside easily
Tests for Detecting Blepharitis :
- Examination of Eyelids: In this process, the area around the eyes and the eyelids will be carefully examined by a doctor under a magnifying instrument.
- Collecting Swab Samples: Occasionally, a sample of the oil formation in the eyelids is collected by swabs. These swabs are then analyzed by medical practitioners to check for any allergies and the presence of fungi and bacteria.
Diagnosis of the Disease :
If an eyelid problem such as Blepharitis is suspected, patients must visit an ophthalmologist or an optometrist. Patients will be required to make a note of all of the symptoms and all of the medications they use. Patients also ought to be aware of other factors such as wearing or removal of contact lenses.
Before the treatment procedure commences, patients can get some relief from the irritation by washing the eyelids with water several times a day. A warm and wet cloth can also be applied to affected areas and left for a few minutes. Diluted baby shampoo solutions can also be gently rubbed on the eyelids. Eyes must be thoroughly rinsed and patients should ensure keeping their fingers clean.
Prognosis of the Disease :
Symptoms of Blepharitis can be very easily controlled and complications prevented by following good hygiene. The outlook for people diagnosed with Blepheritis is fairly positive. Good care of the eyelids and maintaining a good routine and hygiene prevents recurrence of the disease. Although it is classified as a chronic disease, there are many cases of people having only one occurrence of the disease.
In certain cases, the underlying cause of Blepharitis is dry skin, dandruff or Rosacea. If these conditions are treated, then the symptoms of Blepharitis also disappear. For patients who suffer from chronic Blepharitis, the condition is never completely removed. However, good hygiene and care can lead to lower frequency of relapses.
Prevention of Blepharitis :
- Removing all makeup around the eyes before going to bed.
- Keeping the inner edges of the eyelids and the rear of the eyelashes clean of any makeup
- Avoiding touching the eyes when irritation occurs
- Always maintain good hygiene and taking good care by washing the eyes at frequent intervals
All of these are fairly easy steps which ought to be followed by everyone in order to prevent chances of occurrence of the disease.
Types of Blepharitis :
There are two Types :
- Staphylococcal Blepharitis:
This condition occurs due to the anterior of the eyelid getting infected by staphylococcal bacteria. Presence of foreign particles in the eyes is felt by patients and eyelashes often stick together. It is also accompanied by burning and itching sensations. A formation which resembles a ring around the eyelashes is a sign of this condition.
- Rosacea Associated Blepharitis :
This type of the disease occurs in the posterior of the eyelids. It is signified by inflammation of the eyelids due to malfunctioning oil glands and a disorder known as skin rosacea.
Both these types are bilateral and chronic conditions and are manifested by a number of signs and symptoms, particularly the inflammation of the eyelids.
Blepharitis is accompanied by a number of other eye problems and patients may experience one or several of the following problems:
- Abnormal growth of eyelashes
- Scarring of the skin around the eyelids
- Abnormally excessive watery eyes or abnormally dry eyes
- Uncomfortable experiences wearing contact lenses
- Infection at the base of eyelashes known as Sty
- Pink eye, which keeps recurring very often
- Infection to the cornea
- Red and swollen eyelids on the inner side, a condition known as Chalazion
Home Remedies :
For any person suffering with the condition, these simple and effective home remedies should provide them with quite some relief:
- Cleaning the eyes frequently and using a warm and moist cloth to clean the eyelids
- Diluted baby shampoo may be used to clear any particles or debris around the base and corners of the eyelids
- Using antibiotic ointments after consulting a doctor
- Rinsing the eyes thoroughly every day
- Maintaining good overall hygiene
- Controlling dandruff
- Cleaning the eyes and the affected areas frequently with washcloths soaked in warm water.
- Use of antibiotics as ointments, eye drops or even in the form of pills.
- Use of steroid ointments and eye drops which help control inflammation.
- Use of artificial lubricants to treat cases of dryness and irritation of the eyes.
- Any underlying disease, such as skin rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis is sought for and treated to effectively control and treat Blepharitis.
Alternative Medicine :
There are not many alternatives to medical procedures to treat the condition. However, underlying conditions such as rosacea or dermatitis can be controlled by maintaining a diet rich in fatty acids of the Omega 3 type. These are extensively found in common foods including salmon, walnuts, flaxseed and tuna and trout fish.
Useful Tips and Suggestions :
- If Blepharitis is suspected, the doctor or eye specialist must be visited at the earliest.
- Excellent hygiene and frequent cleaning of the eyes can help control the inflammation.
- Patients should always be aware of other underlying diseases which might have caused this condition.
- Patients should refrain from contact lenses when pink eye or irritation of the eyelids occurs.