Blepharitis is an ophthalmological disorder that manifests itself by inflammation of the eyelids. At the base of the eyelids, the patient notices small crusts formed by solidified oil particles or bacteria that collect in the crease at the corner of the eye.

What is blepharitis?

  • Blepharitis is a chronic disease that occurs when the Meibomian glands (at the base of the eyelashes) become flooded. This leads to inflammation of the eyelids near the lashes, discomfort and redness.
  • Blepharitis can affect one or both eyes.
  • The disorder is not contagious.
  • Blepharitis can occur at any age, but it is most common in people over 40.
  • It’s a chronic, recurring infection. It has periods when symptoms are not noticeable, followed by periods when they become extremely intense.

Left untreated, blepharitis can lead to further complications:

  • Dry eyes (tear film dysfunction)
  • Conjunctivitis (inflammatory disorder, caused by conjunctival hypersecretion)
  • Keratitis (inflammation or injury to the cornea)
  • Stye (disorder of the sebaceous glands)
  • Chalazion (inflammation of the upper or lower eyelid)
  • Over time, the white part of the eye can become increasingly red
  • Ectropion (the edges of the eyelids turn outwards) or entropion (the edges of the eyelids turn inwards)
  • Eyelashes lose color, grow abnormally or fall
  • Patients with refractive errors have difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Quality of vision is severely affected by corneal erosion

How many types of blepharitis are there?

Blepharitis is bilateral, most of the time, and can be:

  1. Anterior blepharitis – affects the outer part of the eyelid, in the area near the eyelashes
  2. Posterior blepharitis – affects the inner part of the eyelid, specifically the sebaceous glands
  3. Mixed blepharitis – affects both the sebaceous glands and the base of the outer eyelid. This is the most common form of the disease, which makes chronic blepharitis so difficult to treat.

What causes blepharitis?

Before presenting the causes of blepharitis, you should know that there are several risk factors that make you more susceptible to this disease:

  1. If you are a smoker
  2. If you are a regular drinker
  3. If you have an unbalanced diet
  4. If you wear contact lenses
  5. If you live in a polluted environment with wind, dust and low humidity
  6. If you have oily skin
  7. If you have dandruff
  8. If you have allergies to certain medicines or cosmetics

The most common causes of blepharitis are:

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Acne rosacea
  • Bacteria
  • Untreated myopia, hypermetropia or astigmatism
  • Allergies to contact lens cleaning solutions, eye medicines or cosmetics
  • Hormonal causes
  • Tear film dysfunction
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Digestive tract disorders
  • Avitaminosis

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

Blepharitis occurs equally in adults, children and babies. Most commonly, it is accompanied by an itchy sensation, redness and irritation in the eyelash area, and small crusts that form at the base of the outer eyelid. Other symptoms of blepharitis are:

  • Tearing
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Foreign object sensation
  • Inflamed eyelids
  • Stinging sensation in the eyes
  • Eyelid gluing
  • Exfoliation around the eyes
  • The impression that the eyelids are oily
  • Often blinking
  • Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
  • Dry eyes

All of these can be amplified by alcohol and tobacco consumption, an unbalanced diet, allergies to cosmetics, and environmental conditions – smoke, dust or air flows.

How is blepharitis treated?

Chronic blepharitis requires an ophthalmological examination, in which the specialist observes the patient’s symptoms, carries out investigations and establishes a diagnosis. Based on this, treatment may involve:

  • Better eyelid hygiene
  • Massaging and applying warm water compresses to clean the secretions (helps evacuate and cleanse secretions)
  • Antibiotic treatment
  • Treatment with drops – artificial tears, to hydrate the cornea and maintain the tear film (if the patient also experiences dry eyes)
  • Topical corticosteroids (to reduce inflammation of the eyelids)
  • In the Dr. Holhos ophthalmology network, blepharitis can be treated with a device specially designed for this intervention. It is similar to “googles” safety glasses and is designed to warm the eyelids and relieve the symptoms of the disorder. Due to the unique nature of the design, it is possible to achieve the necessary warmth and humidity in a controlled way, with a beneficial effect on eye health. Depending on the severity of the disease and the patient’s response to ophthalmic treatment, blepharitis can be cured in 5-10 sessions. One session takes only a few minutes.

If you notice symptoms of blepharitis in yourself or someone close to you, schedule a visit to an ophthalmology practice. If you are experiencing chronic blepharitis, visit one of Dr. Holhoș clinics. Our specialists and state-of-the-art medical technology can help you improve your quality of vision.

Text medically reviewed by Dr. Teodor Holhoș, Ophthalmic Surgeon
Written by Dr. Holhos Team

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