Today we are going to discuss eyelid disease, a very common ocular condition that many people experience. We will first start off by talking about Blepharitis specifically. Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid skin and lashes which can lead to red, irritated and itchy lids. The inflammation is usually brought on by bacteria that normally lives on our skin. The most common type of bacteria that causes this type of inflammation is Staphylococcus aureus.
The bacteria or offending agents can affect the eyelashes or the oil producing glands of the eyelid. In blepharitis, the bacteria from our skin invades the hair follicles and/or the oil glands of the eyelid and cause inflammation. When the eyelashes are affected, it leads to flaky debris that builds up on the eyelashes. When the oil glands are affected, the bacteria blocks and changes the oil producing glands which prevents the secretion of a tear film component. If the blockage is not treated, then the glands will become smaller and the oily substances that is normally secreted starts to turn into a “butter-like” substance and can lead to evaporative dry eye. If the condition continues to worsen, this can predispose the development of a Stye.
Diagnosis of blepharitis can be made during your routine eye exam. Your eye doctor will evaluate your eyelids as well as the glands that are surrounding the eye to see if there are any blockages. Treatment for blepharitis can vary. Blepharitis is a chronic condition which requires continuous maintenance treatment. Warm compresses can be used to heat up the thickened oil that is within the glands (think of butter in the microwave). A gentle eyelid massage after the heat is applied will help to allow the oil to flow out of the glands. Lid wipes, such as Ocusoft or Cliradex, can also be used to remove the flaky debris that is sitting on the eyelashes. An artificial tear may also be used to help improve the symptoms. If the inflammation is significant your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic or a steroid to help get the inflammation under control quicker. More extensive treatments are available and are performed at your eye doctor’s office for more aggressive forms of blepharitis.
If you suffer from blepharitis, and would like to discuss with your eye care professional about what treatment plan is best for you, call 860-233-2020 to schedule an appointment today.