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What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis means inflammation of the eyelids, usually around the eyelashes and eyelid glands. Most people are affected at some time and for some it is a frequently recurring problem. It is an eyelid not an eye problem. It is an irritating condition but not usually serious, except in rare cases when severe blepharitis can cause other eye complications.

What is the treatment for blepharitis?
There is no one-off cure, as the inflammation tends to recur. However symptoms can be improved by regular cleaning and massaging of the eyelids.

Regular eyelid cleaning
This is the most important part of treatment and prevention.
• Apply warm compress to the eyelids with a flannel (facecloth soaked in very warm water) for 5-10 minutes. This softens the skin and any crusts attached to the eyelids. Keep rewarming the flannel in hot water if it cools.
• massage the eyelids – gently rolling your first finger on the eyelids (like a rotary action). This helps to push out any of the mucus-like fluid from the tiny eyelid glands.
• clean the eyelids with a cotton wool bud. You should dip the cotton bud in a mixture of baby shampoo and water (half-and-half, water/shampoo).or alternatively in a weak solution of sodium
bicarbonate. Squeeze out excess liquid from the cotton bud to prevent drips getting into your eyes. In particular, try to clean off any crusts at the base of the eyelids.
• wash off the shampoo or solution from the eyelids with a flannel or cloth.

You should do the above routine at least twice a day until symptoms settle. When the symptoms have gone, continue this routine once a day, every day, to prevent further flare-ups.

Antibiotic/Steroid treatments
Antibiotic eye ointment or drops may be advised for a while if an eyelid becomes infected. If the episode is severe the eye specialist may give a course of antibiotic tablets. These tablets are contraindicated in pregnancy and in nursing mothers and young children. If it is severe, steroid ointment may be needed under doctor’s prescription.

Artificial tears may relieve symptoms if your eyes become too dry.

How to prevent Blepharitis
• Always keep the eyelid clean.
• Avoid dusty or smoky conditions
• Bear in mind that air travel, diet or fatigue may cause an attack.
• Change your mascara if you have an eye infection and always remove your make up, especially face powder at night.