Blepharitis is an eye condition that affects both adults and children. The inflammation is seen around the perimeter of the eyelids.
Typically affecting both of the eyes, the symptoms of blepharitis, when noted, are revealed as follows:
- Crusts may form at the base of the lashes.
- Flakes or scales may appear that resemble very small flakes of dandruff on the eyelids.
- Discharge is seen, usually in the morning.
- The eyelids may appear inflamed.
- The eyes may feel itchy, feel gritty, or burn.
- The eyelids feel sore.
Other conditions related to blepharitis are seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, or dry eye. Blepharitis also takes three forms.
Types of blepharitis include the following:
- Staphylococcal blepharitis is believed to be caused by staphylococcus bacteria. The bacterium usually lives on the skin without causing harm. However, the bacteria infects the eyelids in some patients.
- Meibomian blepharitis develops from a dysfunction of the Meibomian glands. The glands, which are situated behind the eyelashes, produce a fluid that discharges from the inside of the eyelids adjacent to the eye. The fluid forms the tear film’s outer layer and therefore lubricates the eye. When a dysfunction exists, blepharitis develops. This may explain why people with the condition often suffer from dry eye.
- Seborrhoeic blepharitis is related to the skin condition seborrhoeic dermatitis, where the skin becomes oily and scaly. The condition triggers dandruff and, in some cases, a rash on the upper body or face. A yeast called Malassezia furfur, which usually is harmless, lives in the sebum or oil of the skin. However, in some people, the yeast causes inflammation, which causes blepharitis.
Therefore, the diagnosis for blepharitis must be carefully assessed as the condition can result from more than one cause. For example, Meibomian blepharitis and seborrhoeic blepharitis may occur simultaneously. Therefore, it is important to receive a precise diagnosis from your GP. Only he or she can assist you in managing your condition properly.
Whilst blepharitis may be an annoying condition, it generally will not threaten your vision. However, complications may develop from time to time. When they do, they may take the form of the following:
- A Meibomian cyst called a chalazion, a painless swelling on inside the eyelid
- A stye, or an infected swelling on the outside eyelid resulting from an infection from an eyelash follicle
- Madarosis, which is eyelash loss
- Trichiasis, or eyelashes directed toward the eye
- Poliosis, a loss of eyelash colour
- Conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the front eye causing soreness, redness, and watering of the eye
To manage blepharitis, it is helpful to massage the eyelids to remove the accumulation of oil in the eyelids’ glands. Lubricating products help dry eye. Because blepharitis cannot be completely cured, routine care is important. That is why you need to follow the recommendations of your eye doctor carefully. Whilst the condition is annoying, much of the discomfort can be relieved when you follow a regular plan of care.