Blepharitis is a chronic inflammation – a long-term swelling – of the eyelids and eyelash follicles. It may be caused by seborrheic dermatitis, acne, bacterial infection, allergic reaction or poor eyelid hygiene. The eyes may become red or blurry, as well as tear frequently. The eyelids crust, flake, scale or redden, and the smooth inside lining of the lids may become rough. In more serious cases, sores can form when the crusting skin is removed, the eyelashes may fall out, the eyelids can deform, the infection can spread to the cornea, and patients often suffer from excessive tearing. Blepharitis can also cause styes, chalazions and problems with the tear film.
Treatment and preventative care for blepharitis involves thorough but gentle cleaning of the eyelids, face and scalp. Warm compresses can be applied to loosen crust and dandruff shampoo can help keep the eyelids clear. This may be combined with antibiotics if a bacterial infection is causing or contributing to the problems.
Meibomian Gland Disease
MGD is a chronic inflammation of the eyelids and eyelash follicles that can be caused by:
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Bacterial infection
- Dry eyes
- Poor eyelid hygiene
- Lice of the eyelash (rare occurrence)
These causes are associated with increased oil production of the glands near the eyelid, which traps bacteria and dirt, causing scaling of the irritated skin and excessive tearing. In addition, the eyelids may become crusty, swollen, itchy and reddened. In more serious cases, the eyelashes may fall out and sores may form on the eyelid. Complications can arise from blepharitis such as the infection spreading to the cornea as well as hastened chalazion and sty formation.
Treatment of MGD is usually limited to maintaining better hygiene around the eyelids. This may include some topical antibiotics and cessation of make-up use, but in many cases, gentle cleansing of the area is all that is needed. Warm compresses can also help to lessen the symptoms and soothe the eye’s discomfort.