At Sunrise Specialty Lens & Dry Eye Institute, Dr. Haiman will diagnose and customize a treatment plan for your form of blepharitis, giving you the comfort and relief you long for. He has the technology to grade and monitor progressive loss of meibomian (oil) glands which are needed to provide the necessary oils to your ocular surface.
What Is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelids that occurs when the tiny oil glands at the base of the eyelashes become clogged or irritated. The most common cause is your body producing thick oils. Bacteria grow within these thick oils producing a layer of film called a biofilm. Biofilm is also “food” for Demodex mites, which exacerbate the condition. This results in itchy eyelids, watery eyes, sensitivity to lights, redness, swelling, soreness, tired eyes, recurrent styes, crusts, or flakes wrapped around the base of your eyelashes. Blepharitis can also be unsightly and cause discomfort. Identifying and treating properly is key to keeping your eyes healthy and relieving these symptoms.
Blepharitis is not caused by poor hygiene; however, maintaining high levels of hygiene can help reduce and prevent the symptoms and help restore clear vision. The condition is chronic and requires follow-up care.
The exact cause of blepharitis is not known. However, various factors and conditions can cause it. Blepharitis is a common condition in people with dandruff on the scalp or oily skin. It can also occur due to an allergic reaction to cosmetic products or makeup used around the eyes, contact lens solutions, or eye medication. It may also be caused by:
- Bacterial infection
- Seborrheic dermatitis (scalp and eyebrows dandruff)
- Rosacea (a skin condition characterized by redness on the face)
- Demodex eyelash mites or lice infestation
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection
- Clogged or malfunctioning oil glands in your eyelids
- Dry eyes
Symptoms of Blepharitis
Symptoms may come and go and are more pronounced in the morning. You may experience a gritty feeling in your eyes-feeling like you have something in your eyes. Other symptoms include:
- Crusty eyelashes when you wake up in the morning
- A burning or stinging sensation in your eye
- A sty on the eyelid near the base of the eyelashes
- Red swollen eyes or eyelids
- Foamy or bubbly tears
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Blurry vision that improves with blinking
- Eyelashes may fall out
- Greasy-looking eyelids
- Frequent blinking
- Sore eyelids
- Dry eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Flakes or crusts around the roots of the eyelashes
Types of Blepharitis
You may suffer from one or both types of blepharitis. There are two types of blepharitis, including:
Anterior blepharitis: This develops on the outer part of the eyelid where the eyelashes emerge. Allergies or bacterial infections commonly cause it.
Posterior blepharitis: This affects the inner part of the eyelid that touches your eye. It occurs when the oil glands in your eyelid get clogged or don’t function properly. The condition can be caused by scalp dandruff or rosacea.
To diagnose the condition, your doctor will take your medical history and ask about your symptoms and other health conditions that might have put you at risk of blepharitis. Your doctor will closely examine your eyelids with a magnifying tool to check your eyes for the presence of viruses, bacteria, fungi, and inflammation. This also helps determine the severity and type of blepharitis you may have. A swab from your eyelid fluids may also be taken to check for infections, quantity, and type of bacteria present. Other tests may include:
- An eyelash exam under a microscope to check for mites.
- Tear test to rule out dry eye
- Eyelid biopsy to rule out skin cancer if there is extreme swelling
Blepharitis has no cure. Several treatment options can control and manage symptoms, such as:
Dr. Haiman found that moist heat helps melt the thick oils the best. Not all warm compresses are alike. We choose those that can deliver at least 5 minutes of continuous heat and are made of an antibacterial material. They often come in the form of a mask that are used once daily. Some patients may require more warm compresses more often depending on their oil gland status. Back in the day we often used warm hand towels that dried up the skin around the eyes as well as did not provide consistent heat to melt the oils.
Eyelid cleaning is very important to help slow down biofilm and bacterial growth. Dr. Haiman prefers a lid cleaner that are free of chemicals as the lid skin is very thin and sensitive. Dr. Haiman’s personal preferences are Zocular, LidHygenix, Blephadex and Optase lid cleaners. Each offer a slightly different advantage based on your type and stage of blepharitis.
Dr. Haiman might recommend the following treatments depending on the underlying cause of your blepharitis:
- Steroid Eye drops; artificial tears may reduce swelling, redness, and dry eye.
- Antibiotics (topical or systematic) for severe blepharitis
- Immunomodulators for posterior blepharitis to reduce inflammation
- Plugs to block tear ducts to keep more tears in your eyes.
- Root cause treatment involves treating health problems that may be causing blepharitis, such as rosacea, dandruff, or lice
- Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to relieve symptoms, help eyelid oil glands work better, and reduce the risk of blepharitis.
Most cases of blepharitis may not be preventable. It is important to reduce the risk of exacerbating successfully treated blepharitis. Here is what you can do to minimize symptoms:
- Remove eye makeup before sleeping
- Wear glasses instead of contact lenses until your blepharitis clears
- Avoid eye rubbing
- Wash your face and hands thoroughly
- Always clean your eyelids
- Do not use eyeliner on the eyelid edges
- Avoid touching itchy eyes or face
- Wipe excess tears or eye drops with a piece of clean tissue
Contact Sunrise Specialty Lens & Dry Eye Institute for more information about blepharitis treatment.