Swollen eyelids? You could be suffering from Blepharitis

By Francois van der Merwe B(Optom) UJ

 Blepharitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids and is typically caused by overgrowth of bacteria that live along the margins of the eyelids and the base of the eyelashes. It can recur and can become very uncomfortable, but it is treatable.

The most common symptoms in blepharitis are:

Burning or stinging eyes

Crusty debris or dandruff on the base of the eyelashes

Irritated and watery eyes

Itchy eyelids

Foreign body sensation

Sensitivity to light

Eyelids sticking

Red and swollen eyelids

One or more of these symptoms can be present depending on the severity of the Blepharitis. A lot of contact lens wearers gives up lens wear due to blepharitis. Some of the causes of Blepharitis may include Bacterial Eyelid infection, Meibomian gland dysfunction, Dry Eyes, Fungal eyelid infection and Demodex mites.

How do we treat blepharitis?

Treatment depends on the type of blepharitis. The key to treating most types of blepharitis is keeping the lids clean and free of crusts.

Applying warm compresses can loosen the crusts. Then gently scrub the eyelids with an over-the-counter lid-cleansing product. 

In cases involving bacterial infection, an antibiotic may be prescribed. 

People with blepharitis might find the following helpful:

If the glands in the eyelids are blocked, massage the eyelids to clean out oil accumulated in the eyelid glands.

Use artificial tear solutions or lubricating ointments, if prescribed.

Use anti-dandruff shampoo on the scalp.

Limit or stop using eye makeup during treatment, as it makes maintaining lid hygiene more difficult.

Temporarily discontinue wearing contact lenses during treatment.

Some blepharitis cases may require more complex treatment plans, but blepharitis seldom resolves completely. 

Tips for eyelid hygiene

Lid Hygiene is important to control blepharitis. Use a clean, warm compress to melt any blocked glands in your eyelids.

Wash your hands, then dampen a clean washcloth with warm (nearly hot) water.

Place the washcloth over your closed eyelids for several minutes.

Then gently rub your eyelid margin with the washcloth before opening your eyes. 

Blepharitis is also very closely correlated with Dry Eye Disease and it is important to consult an Optometrist who is familiar with the causes and treatments. At Spectacle Warehouse we have invested a lot of time towards researching and understanding Blepharitis and Dry Eyes better, allowing us to provide the best possible solutions and care to our patients. Give us a call if you have any of the mentioned symptoms.