Blepharitis – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Sitting for long hours in front of the computer can lead to dry eyes and may even put you at risk of eye infection called blepharitis

Blepharitis -- causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and preventionAre you suffering from constantly itching, red, swollen eye lids? You could be suffering from blepharitis.

Blepharitis is an eye infection that usually involves the eye lid margins and may be associated with conjunctivitis. It can begin in early childhood and continue throughout your life as a chronic condition or may even develop at a later stage.

Causes and risk factors

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'Blepharitis most commonly occurs due to an infection caused by the microorganism Staphylococcus,' says Dr Anand Shroff, Consultant Ophthalmologist, Shroff Eye Hospital, Mumbai. 'Itfrequently occurs in people who have oily skin, dandruff, dermatitis or dry eyes. People suffering from a skin condition called 'acne rosacea' may also suffer from repeated attacks of blepharitis,' he mentions.

Symptoms of blepharitis

Dr Shroff highlights the following common symptoms of the condition:

  • Red eyes
  • Sensation of a foreign particle stuck in the eyes
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling of lids
  • Flaking or crusting around the eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of eyelashes

'If any of these symptoms don't seem to be improving despite good hygiene and regular cleaning of the affected area, it is time to make an appointment with your doctor,' he says.

Diagnosis of blepharitis

Your doctor will first examine your eyes and look for classic symptoms of the condition. Usually, crusting and flaking of the eye lids is an indication of blepharitis. To confirm the cause, a swab of the crust layer may be sent for laboratory testing and evaluation to identify the causative agent.

Treatment of blepharitis

According to Dr Shroff, blepharitis rarely disappears completely. Even with successful treatment, relapses are common. Here are some treatment options that he mentions.

  • Eye lid hygiene: 'Lid hygiene is of utmost importance. A typical regimen for this would include using either a baby shampoo or an eyelid cleanser (from chemists) to clean the edge of the eyelids, while keeping the eyes closed. Washing lids with warm water and using a warm compress on the eyes for a few minutes to help to open up the clogged oil glands also helps.'
  • Medication: 'In some cases, a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication is required. Antibiotic eye-drops may help blepharitis caused by a bacterial infection. Apart from that antibiotics can be either administered orally or topically. Eye-drops or ointments containing steroids can help control inflammation,'
  • Lubricating eye-drops: Lubricating eye-drops or artificial tears may help relieve dry eyes. It is also important to treat underlying conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea.

Prevention of blepharitis

Dr Shroff recommends treating the underlying cause as the best way of preventing future episodes of blepharitis. 'So, if you have dandruff, you need to treat it. If you have dry eyes, then treat the same with lubricating eye drops. Controlling allergies may also help,' he says. Here are some home care tips he suggests.

  • You may find some relief from eye irritation by gently cleaning your eyelids a few times each day with warm water
  • Use diluted solution of baby shampoo to clean eye lids
  • Avoid using anything that irritates your eyes, such as eye makeup and contact lenses

Image source: Getty images

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