What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common condition which causes dysfunction of the oil glands in your eyelids. Thisleads to reduced oil production and subsequent increased evaporation of your tears leading to dry itchy eyes.
Fortunately blepharitis is a benign condition which does not cause vision loss; however, it is unfortunately a chronic condition.
Your tears are formed of three layers. The thin oily layer is the outermost layer which prevents evaporation of the thicker watery layer underneath. These oils are produced by glands in your lids and it’s these glands which become blocked in blepharitis.
Blepharitis and dry eyes are exacerbated by many things including air conditioning, wind, dehydration and extended periods of reading or computer use. Using makeup or contact lenses and conditions such as acne rosacea or ocular rosacea can worsen blepharitis.
Artificial tear drops
You should use a regular tear supplement at least 4 times a day. There are many products on the market and there is a lot of personal preference in the best one for you. My suggestion is to use a non-medicated preservative free product.
If you have significant symptoms in the morning, a lubricating ointment at night will also help.
You can reduce your symptoms by trying to improve the oil production of your glands. This is done by regularly cleaning your eyelashes and using warm compresses to melt the dried stagnant oil.
Cleaning the eyelids with detergent wipes to clean away the crusted oils helps to unblock the glands.
Heating and melting the dried oil blocking the glands helps to improve the function of the oil glands. This is done by placing a warm face towel or face mask on your eyelids for 1-2 minutes. After this massage the lids to expel the built up oil.
Flax seed oil
Flax seed oil has been shown to improve oil gland function by reducing the amount of saturated fatty acids in the oil glands.
Eyelid cleaning and warm compresses should initially be done twice a day for the first two weeks. Then once symptoms have reduced this should be done daily to help maintain oil gland function.
Two useful products:
- Blephaclean Eye Lid Hygiene Wipes
- MGDRx Eye Bag for Blepharitis
These are both available for online purchase. I have no financial interest in these products.
Makeup, chemicals and contact lenses can make blepharitis worse. Avoid using these until your symptoms are under control.
Complications of blepharitis
If blepharitis continues sometimes patients can suffer from styes or chalazions. Both or these conditions are blockages infections of glands in the eyelid; their resolution can be hastened by increasing the warm compresses and cleaning used on the eyelids
Blepharitis should not be painful or cause reduced vision. If either of these problems arise please arrange a followup appointment.