Blepharitis is a common condition causing inflammation of the eyelids. The underlying cause is usually unknown, but there is often growth of bacteria around the oil glands of the eyelids. In some cases is it linked to acne rosacea, allergies or trauma to the eyelids.
Common symptoms and signs include sore, red or swollen eyelids, itching, grittiness, crusting or a sticky discharge around the eyelashes,
tired feeling eyes and excessive blinking. Blepharitis can lead to complications such as the formation of a stye or chalazion (where a blockage to the opening of an oil gland causes a cyst to form in the inner eyelid) or corneal disease.
Blepharitis is a chronic condition and in most cases cannot be
cured. Treatment involves long term cleaning of the eyelids. In addition, antibiotic and/or corticosteroid eyedrops or ointments may be prescribed for short periods by your ophthalmologist. Antibiotic tablets may also be used for several months, particularly in severe cases. It is advisable to avoid eyeshadow, eyeliner and any other cosmetics around the eye during treatment. In addition, it may be useful to avoid contact lens wear during a flare up. Treatment may take weeks or months before the condition is controlled and symptoms eased.
Cleaning of the eyelids is performed using a combination of hot compresses and massage to help empty the oil glands, followed by cleaning of the eyelid margins using a special eyelid cleaner (or a home-made solution of a few drops of Johnsons baby shampoo or a pinch of sodium bicarbonate with warm water).