HOW TO Identify & Treat Blepharitis

By Faith Lewis

Your eyelids are itchy and red. Your eyes sting and feel gritty and you’re becoming sensitive to light.

Sure, spring is in the air, it could be allergies. It could even be your new contacts. But if you’ve noticed your skin is flaky or crusty at the base of your lashes, you could be seeing the first signs of a chronic inflammatory condition called blepharitis.

“Nearly one out of every three patients has a degree of blepharitis to some extent,” says Dr. Joseph E. Zeiter. “This is caused by long standing irritation at the edges of our eyelids, and a small problem can have numerous long-term implications for those affected.”

Blepharitis can be caused by three main factors, or a combination: clogged oil glands, reaction to chronic dryness, or an overabundance of naturally occurring bacteria.

Routinely washing the eyelids with baby shampoo can help prevent blepharitis and maintain optimal eyelid health. Artificial tears also help prevent the drying of the eyes and decrease chronic inflammation that can lead to blepharitis.

Chronic dryness will exacerbate blepharitis. Oftentimes people blink less frequently during activities like using the computer for an extended period of time, or simply as a result of decreased tear production as we age.

Once a patient develops blepharitis, they can expect to be managing symptoms long term as there is no cure. However, many patients respond well to home blepharitis treatment and medications that can sometimes help to alleviate some of the symptoms.

Keeping the eyelids clean is a key component of managing symptoms. Applying warm saltwater soaks for five minutes twice daily can help clean out small glands that may be clogged by fatty acid chains.

If these treatments alone do not offer relief, your doctor may choose to add medication to your regimen. Commonly prescribed medications include ointments with antibiotics or possibly even a steroid. These can help to reduce inflammation and bacteria on the eyelids.

Oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, minocycline, or doxycycline can also be prescribed in hopes of controlling the bacteria in severe cases.

“Many of the routine eye problems I encounter-pain, occasional blurred vision, the sensation of sand or a hair in the eyes-are all a result of a combination of mild dryness and chronic irritation,” says Dr. Zeiter. “Routine eye health and treating dry eyes early would help a lot of people before an eye specialist would even need to get involved.”

For More Information:
Zeiter Eye Medical Group

Multiple San Joaquin Locations
(209) 466-5566