Blepharitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the eyelids, leading to redness, darkening of the lid edges, swelling, and scaliness. Typically, both eyes are affected. This condition commonly arises when small oil glands near the base of the eyelashes become blocked, causing irritation and redness.
There are two types of blepharitis, based on its location on the eyelids:
- Anterior blepharitis: It affects the front exterior of the eyelids, and is characterized by redness or darker coloration, swelling, and the presence of dandruff on the lashes.
- Posterior blepharitis: This occurs when the oil-producing meibomian glands under the eyelid produce thickened or unhealthy oil.
Blepharitis tends to be a chronic condition that can be challenging to treat. While it may cause discomfort and affect the appearance of the eyelids, it typically does not result in permanent damage to eyesight and is not contagious.
Blepharitis signs and symptoms may include:
- Eyelids that are swollen and/or oily
- Eyes that are red and inflamed
- Watery eyes
- Itchy, burning, or stinging sensation in the eyes
- Skin flaking around the eyes
- Crusting of the eyelashes and corners of the eyelids, causing the eyelids to stick together
- More frequent blinking
- Excessive weeping or dry eyes
- Photophobia, or light sensitivity
- Blurred vision that usually improves with blinking
- Lashes are falling out
- Trichiasis, or eyelashes that grow toward the eyes rather than away from them
If you notice that any of the signs and symptoms of blepharitis persist or do not improve despite maintaining good hygiene practices, it is essential to seek advice from a healthcare provider for appropriate intervention.
Blepharitis may arise due to issues with the meibomian glands responsible for producing the oils in tears, or it could be associated with specific skin disorders or infections. Nonetheless, the precise cause of blepharitis remains unknown.
It could be related to one or more of the following:
- Seborrheic dermatitis: A condition causing dandruff on the scalp and eyebrows.
- Rosacea: This is characterized by facial redness that cause facial skin irritation, which can affect the eyelids
- Allergies: Contact lens solution, eye drops, eye medication, or cosmetics allergies might cause irritation
- Dry eyes: Dry tear ducts can change bacterial resistance, leading to health issues.
- Lice or Demodex mites: These can clog eyelash follicles and glands.
- Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD): This occurs when the oil from the meibomian glands does not flow freely, resulting in dry eyes, irritation, and infection.