Blepharitis is a condition meaning inflammation of the eyelids.
Blepharitis can result in eye and eyelid redness, irritation, crusting, and a dry or sandy feeling in the eyes and is often found in association with dry eyes. The symptoms may be annoying, and treatment may be initiated if the symptoms are severe enough to warrant it. In general, blepharitis does not cause any sight threatening problems except in very severe cases.
Blepharitis is very common and does not indicate the presence of a serious illness. It usually results from the small oil glands in the eyelids not secreting the oils that form part of the tears well enough.
Blepharitis is usually treated in a step-wise fashion. Initial treatment includes:
- Warm compresses: Warm tap water on a clean wash cloth placed over both eyes for 10-15 minutes 2-4 times a day. The wash cloth cools off in a few minutes, so it usually needs to be reheated several times.
- Eyelid scrubs: Baby shampoo mixed 50:50 with warm tap water placed on a clean wash cloth (or cotton swab if you prefer) is used to gently scrub and massage the edges of the eyelids near where the eye-lashes come out for 5 minutes 2 times a day.
- Antibiotic ointment: 1/4 inch of Erythromycin or Bacitracin ointment is applied to the eyes near the lowers lids at bedtime. It causes some temporary blurring of vision, so use it right before going to sleep.
For more extreme cases, additional treatment may be indicated by your doctor, but this is not usually necessary.
It often takes several weeks to notice significant improvement after starting treatment. Once improvement is noted, the frequency of the treatment can often be reduced. If the treatment is stopped, the blepharitis can return.