Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelash follicles along the edge of both the upper and lower eyelids. It is usually found in both eyes and most commonly caused by a bacterial infection. It can have similar symptoms to conjunctivitis; an inflammation of the clear membrane that lines the eye, be irritating, itchy and generally uncomfortable.

Blepharitis and conjunctivitis may cause mild discomfort and may produce a crust or discharge, occasionally causing the eyelids to stick together during sleep. The eyes and eyelids may become red, but usually there is no blurring or any change in vision.

The inflammation is usually caused by bacterial infections in the glands of the eyelids. Some other causes are:

  • Rosacea (Adult acne)
  • Scalp dandruff
  • Trauma caused by smoke, chemical fumes or smog
  • Drug allergies or sensitivities
  • Lice on the eyelid
  • Eczema-like dermatitis

There are two types of blepharitis; anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis.

  • Anterior Blepharitis affects the outside front of the eyelid, where the eyelashes are attached.
  • Posterior Blepharitis affects the inner eyelid (the moist part that makes contact with the eye)

The main signs and symptoms are:

  • Feeling like there is "something" in your eye
  • Itchiness
  • Loss of lashes
  • Sore or painful eyelids
  • Excessive tears
  • Excessive blinking
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sticky eyelashes when waking of a morning

If Blepharitis is left untreated, complications such as: conjunctivitis, Meibomian cysts (small abscess in the eyelid), and eyelashes that turn in and irritate the eye or an intolerance to contact lenses may develop.

Treatment for blepharitis can be ongoing as in some cases treatment is unsuccessful and the condition can not be cured. Some patients may not have any signs and symptoms for months; even years and it may reappear again.

Your ophthalmologist will initially attempt to treat the infection with ointment or drops and then advise a proper cleaning regime of the eye area, to aid in preventing it reoccurring.

Treatment of blepharitis consists initially of warm compresses, eyelid scrubs and application of antibiotic ointment. Patients must be cautioned that blepharitis is a chronic disease and that eyelid hygiene may need to be continued indefinitely. When the condition is under control, once-daily eyelid scrubs may be sufficient to keep the condition controlled.

 


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