Don't Close Your Eyes to Blepharitis Symptoms
Updated: Feb 21, 2019
Do you ever experience red, itchy, or crusted eyelids? Are you prone to getting frequent styes? Have you tried all sorts of eye drops for chronic dryness but never find relief? You might have a treatable condition called blepharitis.
What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid. It is most often caused by bacteria that naturally live on our skin. Sometimes those bacteria can get overpopulated, creating a sticky residue called a biofilm. This can disrupt the oil glands in your eyelids and cause irritation. Blepharitis can also be associated with dry eyes, meibomian gland dysfunction, or the presence of mites called demodex.
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Symptoms of blepharitis include burning, itching, or watering eyes. Sometimes you may be able to see crusting or flaking around the eyelashes. A gritty or foreign body sensation in the eye is also common. Blepharitis can affect anyone at any age and is usually a chronic condition that requires consistent daily maintenance to control symptoms.
So, what is this daily maintenance? Mild cases of blepharitis can be controlled by using products on the eyelids that are specifically designed to treat the disease. These are typically over-the-counter cleansers or pre-moistened wipes, formulated to remove oil, makeup, and dead skin from the eyelids. Before you run to the pharmacy, make sure you have your eyelids evaluated by Dr. Pulsfus to determine which product will work best for you.
Another part of your daily regimen should be warm compresses. These can be wet or dry heat, and should not be too hot on the skin. Place the warm compress on the base of your lashes for fifteen minutes. The heat from the compress will help loosen particles on your lashes and clear the oil glands. Gentle massage on your eyelids can help to release the oils from the glands which results in more stable tears on your eye’s surface.
There is evidence that increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake may help soothe symptoms of blepharitis and dry eye. Because omega-3’s are naturally anti-inflammatory, some studies have shown that they can be useful in the fight against blepharitis. Often times though, it could take several months of consistent omega-3 supplementation to see real effects.
When Home Treatments Aren’t Enough
Sometimes a lid cleansing regimen alone isn’t enough for a first-line treatment of blepharitis. Moderate to severe cases may require a prescription medication to help your body fight the bacteria and control the inflammation. We may also perform an in-office procedure designed to “deep clean” your affected eyelids. This treatment works by removing the biofilm and debris from your eyelids using a sonic cleaning wand and a special foam. This may also be combined with an in-office heat treatment if the oil glands in the eyelid are also affected.
In-office blepharitis treatments are not painful, but are also not a “one and done” solution. Just like you still need to brush your teeth regularly after a deep cleaning at the dentist, patients suffering from blepharitis also need to keep up with the daily treatment prescribed to them by their doctor to continue to see results.
If you are concerned you might be suffering from blepharitis, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Pulsfus!