Blepharitis is swelling or inflammation of the eyelids, usually where the eyelash hair follicles are located.
In people with blepharitis, too much oil is produced by the glands near the eyelid. The exact reason for this problem is not known. Blepharitis is more likely to be seen with:
The eyelids appear red and irritated, with scales that stick to the base of the eyelashes. The eyelids may be:
You may feel like you have sand or dust in your eye when you blink. Sometimes, the eyelashes may fall out and the eyelids may become scarred.
An examination of the eyelids during an eye examination is usually enough to diagnose blepharitis.
Careful daily cleansing of the eyelid edges helps remove the skin oils that cause bacteria to grow too much. Your health care provider might recommend using baby shampoo or special cleansers. Antibiotic ointments may also be helpful.
If you have blepharitis:
The likely outcome is good with treatment. You may need to keep the eyelid clean to prevent repeated problems. Continuing treatment will make the eyes less red and more comfortable.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms worsen or do not improve after careful cleansing of the eyelids for several days.
Cleaning eyelids carefully will help prevent blepharitis. If a specific skin condition is present, it should be treated.
Ganatra JB, Goldstein MH. Blepharitis. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 4.4.
Yanoff M, Cameron D. Diseases of the visual system. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 431.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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