Blepharitis Blepharitis Blepharitis is a common condition and can occur in anyone, at any age It is often persistent and usually effects both eyes. Symptoms include inflammation of the edges of the eyelids which can then cause redness and burning, itchy eyes. Common causes of Blepharitis include: • Poor eyelid hygiene • Oily skin • Dandruff • Rosacea Acne • The eyelid glands produce secretions that are excessive or of poor quality • Bacterial infection (often staphylococcal) • Allergic reaction The main symptoms of blepharitis include: • Itchy, burning, watery eyes • Crusty or sticky eyelashes • A feeling of “something in the eye” • Scaly skin flakes along the eyelid margins • Frequent stye formation • Tiny pimples on the eyelid edges • Sensitivity to light • Blurred vision • Redness and swelling of the eyelids • Deformities of the edge of the eyelids Treatment There is no immediate cure for Blepharitis but the symptoms can be managed with warm compresses, massage and cleansing. The eyelids are soothed and any blocked meibomian glands are unblocked and cleared of any stagnant oily secretions. Warm Compresses A warm facecloth or a small wheat bag should be applied to the eyes for 4-5 minutes 2-3 times a day. This softens the oil in the meibomian glands and loosens any crusts around the eyelashes. Massage Straight after applying the warm compress, use the tips of your fingers to massage the upper and lower eyelids towards the edge of the lids, i.e. on the upper lids this would be from top to bottom. The aim idea is to squeeze the oil out of the clogged meibomian glands. Cleansing After the compress and massage you need to clean the eyelids. This is done by gently rubbing along the rims of the eyelids close to the eyelashes using either a facecloth or cotton bud and diluted baby shampoo or special lid wipes purchased from the pharmacy such as ‘Sterilid’ foam or ‘Systane’ lid wipes. When Blepharitis symptoms flare up you should follow the above routine at least twice daily until they settle. Once the symptoms have eased, it can be reduced to once daily to prevent further flare-ups. Other Treatments Along with the daily cleansing regime, your doctor may prescribe eye drops or ointment or oral antibiotics. For persistent blepharitis a low dose of Doxycycline, may be prescribed for several months. This will often improve the oil composition of the eyelid glands, leading to a healthier ocular surface. Omega 3 supplements may also be beneficial with long term use. This has anti-inflammatory properties and may also improve the quality of the oil component of the tears. Demodex Blepharitis The Demodex mite can cause blepharitis by carrying bacteria on its surface including Streptococci and Staphylococci. This mite is invisible to the naked eye and lives in the hair follicle, on facial skin especially the forehead, cheeks, sides of the nose, eyelashes and external ear canals. Our clinic offers a specialised treatment to eradicate ocular demodex. An ophthalmic technician administers 2-3 intensive tea tree-oil treatments under topical anaesthesia. This has been shown to reduce or even eliminate the mite.