What is Blepharitis?

The word blepharitis literally means “inflamed eyelids”. It is often called “granulated eyelids” because of the crusts the form on the the outer part of the eye where the eyelashes grow. It is a chronic condition, meaning it cannot be cured, but there are treatments used to manage the symptoms.

What causes it?

Blepharitis is caused by bacterial growth and inflammation in the oil glands along the margin of the eyelid. Seborrheic dermatitis, dandruff in in the scalp or eyebrows, or rosacea are all conditions often associated with blepharitis. If you have these conditions, you are more at risk of developing blepharitis.

Signs & Symptoms

Common findings in people with blepharitis include:

  • itchy, burning and/or red eyes
  • redness and crusting of the lid margins
  • foamy tears
  • a gritty feeling in the eye
  • light sensitivity
  • frequent styes
  • thickened eyelid margins
  • eyelashes that fall out or become misdirected

Treatments for Blepharitis

Medications, as well as instructions referred to as “lid hygiene” may be prescribed by your eye doctor. They include:

  • Hot Compress: Hold a washcloth under hot water until saturated, then wring out the washcloth and hold on your eye. Reheat the washcloth as it cools.
  • Lid Scrubs: After the hot compress, use the same warm washcloth to wrap around your finger and gently scrub along the upper and lower lid margins (the base of the lashes).
  • Eye Drops: After the hot compress and lid scrub, any eye drops prescribed may be used. Some doctors recommend using the drop on the lid margin opposed to dropping it in the eye.
  • Medicated Ointment: After the hot compress and lid scrub, you may use any medicated ointment prescribed. Blurred vision may occur when applying ointments, so it’s always best to use them at night.
  • Oral Antibiotics: Only prescribed in severe cases of blepharitis.

For people with dandruff-related blepharitis, anti-seborrhea shampoo for the scalp may be recommended. This shampoo may also be used to treat flaky crusty eyebrows but should not be used in the eye area.

If you notice any of these symptoms, call the Benjamin Eye Institute so we can set you up with the best treatment for you.