What is Blepharitis
Simply put, blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids leading to the symptoms of redness and irritation. Inflammation of the eyelid can result from the build up of normally secreted oils and substances, which form part of the normal tear film. Normal tear film is also composed of elements from the lacrimal gland and the conjunctiva (which lines the white of the eye and the eyelids). When the eyelids become inflamed the normal tear film breaks down.
Types of Blepharitis
Relating to the eyelashes that are not in direct contact with the eye. Debris builds up at the base of the lashes.
Relating to the (meibomian) glands of the eyelid that secrete the oily component of the tear film and are in direct contact with the eye. Health care professionals can refer this to meibomian gland dysfunction.
What causes Blepharitis
Build up of debris or change in tear film consistency can be triggered by bacterial infection or skin conditions, including eczema, acne, rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis. Normal 'wear and tear' changes in the eyelids can also lead to blepharitis.
What are the symptoms of Blepharitis?
- Lid discharge/ debris
- Eye rubbing
What do I do if I feel I have these symptoms?
Seek medical attention from the appropriate care provider. An eye examination would detect blepharitis.
What treatments are available for Blepharitis?
A stepwise approach to treating blepharitis can be initiated by your care provider. Treatment includes;
1. Lid hygiene
Lid hygiene is a method of cleaning/ cleansing the eyelids, removing the excess debris that build up throughout the day and night. The name implies that the eyelids are dirty. On the contrary, the eyelids are producing normal substances, just in the wrong consistency resulting in build up.
A. Warm compress of the eyelid
Place a clean flannel and place it into warm cooled boiled water. Place the flannel on the eye taking care to test the water with the back of the palm beforehead, so as not to scald yourself. Wipe the eye gently and repeat. You may repeat the process with the fellow eye. Take care not to share towels!
Applicator devices such as the 'eye bag' can be used to deliver heat to the eye. These devices can be warmed in the microwave, and are available to purchase for £20 each from us.
B. Massage of the eyelid
On the closed eye, start at the base of the lower eyelid and roll either a cotton bud or the little finger in a upward motion to manually express stagnant oil along and through the glands. This can then be wiped using the technique of 'cleaning of the lid margin' above. Similarly the upper lid can be attended to, but the time starting at the upper aspect of the eyelid and working in a downward motion.
C. Cleaning of the lid margin
Firstly boil approximately a litre of water and allow it to cool. Add one teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda or a few drops of tea tree oil. Dip a cotton bud into the water. Gently pull the lower eyelid away from the eye and apply the cottom bud to the margin of the lower eyelid. Sweep along the base of the eyelash to remove excess debris and oils. Throw the cotton bud away. And repeat for the other eye. Repeat day and night.
Alternatively specific wipes and cleaning solutions are also available to use instead, such as Blephasol and Blephaclean and can be purchased from us.
Omega 3 oils have been found to improve symptoms of dry eye and meibomian gland function. They also have additional health benefits in lowering triglyceride levels and aiding cardiovasicular health. These oils are naturally occurring in fish; which include
- Fresh tuna
Recommended advice is of two portions of fish per week or daily oral over the counter supplementation. Increasing doses should only be undertaken under direct supervision of your general practitioner.
3. Medical Treatments
The main stay of treatment includes the use of Lubricating drops, which can help to aid the relief of the symptoms by restoring the normal tear film function. There are arrays of lubricating drops and it must be noted that there are no drops that suits everyone. Your doctor may also choose to initiate medical treatment to help ease the burden of blepharitis. This includes a course of antibiotics that's helps reduce the inflammation of the eyelids. Antibiotics can interfere with other medications. Antibiotics may also be contraindicated in patients actively trying to conceive.
- Blepharitis is a condition that can be treated in a stepwise fashion.
- Treatment includes lid hygiene, diet amelioration and medical treatment.
- Whilst treatment settles immediate symptoms, on-going background treatment may be required to keep symptoms at bay.