Blepharitis/Eyelid Inflammation: Types, Symptoms, Causes, Complications, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

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Blepharitis Eyelid Inflammation

1Overview

Blepharitis is a chronic eye condition that is characterized by a notable inflammation of the eyelids. It could affect the outer (where eyelashes are located) or the inner part of the eyelids (where Meibomian glands are located). Experts describe it as a condition where the oil glands are clogged, causing the irritation and swelling of the eyelids. This condition usually affects both eyes at the same time.

It is one of the eye conditions that is difficult to treat, and its occurrence can cause discomfort to the patient not only because of the burning sensation and itchiness in the eyelids but also because of its unpleasant appearance. Unlike some beliefs, the condition is non-contagious or cannot be passed on to another person and does not lead to permanent vision impairment unless complications arise.

There are some speculations that blepharitis can be a sign of the onset of Meibomian gland dysfunction, which can lead to dry eye syndrome. Also, blepharitis is often linked to skin conditions including psoriasis and ocular rosacea. It is not unusual for this condition to occur at the same time with “pink eye” or conjunctivitis.

2Types

The main types of blepharitis are anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis. In some cases, patients would experience the symptoms of both types of blepharitis.

Anterior blepharitis

This refers to the type of blepharitis that is characterized by the inflammation of outer side of the eyelid. This type has two sub-types: staphylococcal blepharitis (blepharitis is caused by bacteria and seborrheic blepharitis (blepharitis is caused by dandruff). In some very rare cases, blepharitis can also come as a result of allergies or lice or mite infestation.

Posterior blepharitis

This type is characterized by the inflammation of the meibomian glands located inside the eyelid.

3Symptoms

All people may get the eye condition, and once infected, they will find it hard to keep the symptoms from recurring. Some of the common symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Irritation and burning sensation in the eyelids
  • Red, swollen, greasy eyes
  • Flakes or crusty substances on the eyelids
  • Gritty sensation when blinking
  • Sticky feeling of the eyelids
  • Increased sensitivity to light
  • Abnormal growth of the eyelashes or loss of eyelashes
  • Discomfort in using contact lenses
  • Uncomfortable feeling in the eyelids
  • Dry eyes
  • Clouded vision
  • Infestation of mites/lice
  • Gritty sensation

4Causes

It is not yet clear what the root cause of blepharitis may be. However, health experts have observed that symptoms may be caused or aggravated by:

  • Dandruff
  • Bacteria
  • Clogging of oil glands
  • Mites or lice
  • Rosacea
  • Allergies to substances found in eye medication, eye drop, eye makeup, contact lens solution

5Complications

Blepharitis symptoms can be stopped with the use of antibiotics or by meticulous caring of the eyes. When left untreated or aggravated by irritants or other substances, it is possible for blepharitis to lead to health conditions and complications, such as:

Scarring of the skin in the eyelids

This can come as a result of continued scratching of the eyelids despite its dryness.

Chalazion

These are the nodules or lumps found in the eyelids due to the irritation of the skin.

Sty

This refers to a big lump that forms on the eyelid when infected with bacteria.

Chronic conjunctivitis

Patients may suffer from “pink eye” symptoms on top of the irritation they feel with the persistence of blepharitis symptoms.

Corneal infection or injury

If the inflammation is left untreated, this can result in problems in the tear film of the eyes and, eventually infection or injury of the cornea. If the cornea is damaged, the only cure is to replace it with a healthy one, and cornea donor is only possible if the donor is deceased.

Poliosis

This refers to the loss of the color of the eyelashes.

Conjunctival phlyctenules

Signs include the formation of lumps (nodules) that are encased by tiny blood vessels

Eyelid cancer

One notable symptom that may be a sign of the occurrence of localized cancer is the acute loss of eyelashes.

6Diagnosis

Blepharitis can be detected as immediately with a visit to the eye doctor. Tests and procedures used to diagnose the eye condition include:

Eye exam

A checkup with the ophthalmologist may be enough to diagnose blepharitis. He will be looking at the condition of eyes with the use of the instruments, and he may take note of the symptoms you may be experiencing. He will check as well where the inflammation is occurring and if there are secretions present in the eyes.

Swabbing

The eye doctor may swab the skin of your eyes for testing to better understand the sticky fluids or flakes found on your eyelids. This swab will be examined in terms of the presence of bacteria, fungi, or virus, and if the inflammation may actually be just caused by an allergy.

7Treatment

There is no absolute cure for blepharitis as of this moment. Also, once a person is infected, he will find it difficult to stop the symptoms from recurring. However, there are measures that the patient can do to reduce the symptoms and improve the health of the eyelids. Some of the treatments include:

The administration of medications. The eye specialist may prescribe medication to reduce the inflammation of the eyelids, fight the infection, and normalize the immune system. Medication can be in the form of creams, eye drops, or ointments or as oral medication. Eye lubricants may also be prescribed for patients to ease the inflammation and protect the eyes from bacteria.

Home care. Apart from taking medication, the eye doctor will also give patients instructions on how they can take care of their eyes and keep the eyelids from getting infected by bacteria. Patients are advised to keep the eyelids clean by washing them every day and keep the eyes lubricated. This stops the buildup of bacteria in the eyes and stops them from irritating the eyelids. Warm compresses can help ease the inflammation of the eyelids.

8Prevention

Although considered as non-contagious, blepharitis is still problematic as a health condition is it is chronic and tough to treat. At the moment, there is no cure for the disease, and the root cause of the condition is unknown. Eye experts, however, managed to identify what can aggravate the symptoms of blepharitis. Patients use the following measures in order to prevent the eye condition from getting worse:

Self-care at home

The eyes, including those infected with blepharitis, must be protected from irritants, such as dust and smoke, and should be kept clean. People should make it a habit of washing their eyelids every day with gentle soaps, such as baby shampoo, and clean water. They should also be mindful of the cleanliness of their hands as well as the items that get to their eyes. They should avoid touching or scratching their eyes to avoid any bacteria from getting in the eyes. Those who wear makeup regularly should remove their eye makeup completely before they go to bed and should not make it a habit of lining the inside of the eyelids (behind where the eyelashes are) with eyeliner. People who are sufferers of acne rosacea, severe dandruff, or infestation of lice should have these skin conditions treated as soon as possible. Users of contact lenses should habitually cleanse their contacts with a clean solution and should not use solutions that have expired or contaminated. Those who frequently experience dry eyes should ask their eye doctor to prescribe them with eye drops that will help them lubricate their eyes.

Follow a well-balanced and drink the juices of fruits that are rich in vitamins that help keep the eyes healthy. Most green, leafy vegetables have nutrients that are good for the eyes, and there are fruits that help retain the natural fluids of the eyes. Drinking more water can also help moisten the eyes apart from moisturizing the skin and lubricating the joints and other vital organs.

Take supplements. Some supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils and vitamins A and E, can help keep the eyes healthy and moisturized. However, these nutrients and vitamins can be acquired by eating fruits and vegetables, so the patient should check first with your physician before taking any supplements.

Regular visits to the eye doctor. People who have had eye conditions in the past, especially those caused by bacteria infection, should have their eyes checked regularly by the ophthalmologist. The eye doctor can help determine whether the patient is prone to some types of eye condition and if an eye condition is present. This helps the patient attack the disease early and reduce the risk of complications to occur. Blepharitis can be diagnosed early, and the symptoms can be stopped just as early. People should make it a habit to visit their eye doctor at least once a year even if they are not experiencing any symptoms.