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What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a condition that causes inflammation of your eyelids, making them swollen and red.  It can also cause crusty eyelids and make your eyes feel sore and irritated.  It is persistent and may recur even after it has been treated – this means that it could require managing over a long period of time.

There is more than one type of blepharitis.  Anterior blepharitis affects the outside front edge of your eyelids (near or among your eyelashes) and can sometimes be caused by a staphylococcus bacterial infection.  Posterior blepharitis affects the inside rim of your eyelids, just behind your eyelashes.

You may also develop blepharitis as a complication of seborrheic dermatitis. This is a common skin condition which can cause the scalp, face and other areas of the body to become scaly, itchy and red.

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

What is the treatment for blepharitis?

It can take time to resolve problems associated with blepharitis and it cannot be totally cured.  However, with treatment, it is possible to make your eyes feel more comfortable.

A lid cleaning routine should be introduced along with using a warm compress (or eye mask) to help encourage the glands in your eyelids produce oils to lubricate your eyes. 

After 10 minutes of heat gently massage the lids and then clean.  Your optometrist will advise of the best options for you and may suggest specific lid wipes.

Lubricating eye drops are available which can help ease the symptoms of gritty and dry eyes.  Ask you optometrist for advice.

If compresses and cleaning do not help, you may be referred to your doctor and they could prescribe an antibiotic ointment or tablets.

Omega 3 supplements have been shown to reduce the symptoms of blepharitis and eye dryness. 

Avoid using eye makeup, such as mascara and eyeliner, and smoky atmospheres.

Who is at risk of blepharitis?

It is more common in people over 50 but it could develop at any age, as we age, the glands in our eyelids may block more easily.  Our tears contain fewer lubricants as you get older so eyes can feel dry and more gritty.