The inflammation is caused by certain infections, allergic reactions, and some skin conditions.
The eyelids become irritated, red, and swollen and may burn and itch.
Usually the diagnosis is based on symptoms and the appearance of the eyelids.
Any underlying disorders are treated, and sometimes antibiotic ointments or drops, antiviral pills, corticosteroid ointment, artificial tears, or a combination is given.
Causes of Blepharitis
Disorders that may cause blepharitis include bacterial (typically staphylococcal) infection of the eyelids or the ducts of the deeper glands that open at the edges of the eyelids, certain viral infections (usually herpes simplex Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Infections Herpes simplex virus infection causes recurring episodes of small, painful, fluid-filled blisters on the skin, mouth, lips (cold sores), eyes, or genitals. This very contagious viral infection... read more ), and allergic reactions (to pollens or sometimes to eye makeup and/or eye drops).
Skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis Seborrheic Dermatitis Seborrheic dermatitis is chronic inflammation that causes yellow, greasy scales and dandruff to form on areas of the skin that have a high number of oil glands such as the scalp and face, along... read more , rosacea Rosacea Rosacea is a persistent skin disorder that causes redness, tiny pimples, and noticeable blood vessels, usually on the central area of the face. The cause is unknown. Typical symptoms include... read more , and atopic dermatitis Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema) Atopic dermatitis (commonly referred to as eczema) is chronic, itchy inflammation of the upper layers of the skin that often develops in people who have hay fever or asthma and in people who... read more (eczema) affect the face including the eyelids, leading to inflammation and blepharitis.
Another cause is inflamed, blocked oil glands at the edge of the eyelids (called meibomian gland dysfunction), which can be caused by seborrheic dermatitis or rosacea.
Eye drops and eye makeup can trigger allergic reactions that cause blepharitis (called contact sensitivity allergic blepharitis).
Sometimes the inflammation has no known cause.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
Blepharitis may cause the feeling that something is in the eye. The eyes and eyelids may itch and burn, and the edges of the eyelids may become red. The eyes may become watery and sensitive to bright light.
In some types of blepharitis, such as those caused by bacterial infections, the eyelids may swell, and some of the eyelashes may turn white or even fall out. This type of blepharitis is usually acute. Sometimes, small abscesses containing pus (pustules) develop in the sacs at the base of the eyelashes and eventually form shallow ulcers (ulcerative blepharitis). A crust may form and stick tenaciously to the edges of the eyelids. When the crust is removed, the surface may bleed. During sleep, secretions dry and make the eyelids stick together, so symptoms may be worse upon awakening.
In some types of blepharitis, such as those caused by blocked oil (meibomian) glands, the glands become plugged up with hard, waxy deposits. This type of blepharitis can be chronic. People often have seborrheic dermatitis Seborrheic Dermatitis Seborrheic dermatitis is chronic inflammation that causes yellow, greasy scales and dandruff to form on areas of the skin that have a high number of oil glands such as the scalp and face, along... read more or rosacea Rosacea Rosacea is a persistent skin disorder that causes redness, tiny pimples, and noticeable blood vessels, usually on the central area of the face. The cause is unknown. Typical symptoms include... read more and develop styes Chalazion and Stye (Hordeolum) Chalazia are enlargements of an oil gland (similar to a pimple) deep in the eyelid caused by an obstruction of the gland’s opening. Styes are usually infected eyelash follicles. A chalazion... read more or chalazia Chalazion and Stye (Hordeolum) Chalazia are enlargements of an oil gland (similar to a pimple) deep in the eyelid caused by an obstruction of the gland’s opening. Styes are usually infected eyelash follicles. A chalazion... read more (eyelid cysts).
Some people with blepharitis develop dry eyes Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca Keratoconjunctivitis sicca is dryness of the conjunctiva (the membrane that lines the eyelids and covers the white of the eye) and cornea (the clear layer in front of the iris and pupil). Too... read more .
Most types of blepharitis tend to recur and stubbornly resist treatment. Blepharitis is inconvenient and unattractive but usually does not damage the cornea or result in loss of vision. Occasionally, ulcerative blepharitis can result in a loss of the eyelashes, scarring of the eyelid margins, and, rarely, even inflammation affecting the cornea.
Chronic blepharitis can also develop in people with
Cancer of the eyelid Basal cell carcinoma of the eye Noncancerous (benign) and cancerous (malignant) growths can form on the eyelids. A yellow-white lump known as xanthelasma is seen under the eye. This finding may indicate elevated cholesterol... read more (especially if the blepharitis affects one eyelid only and there is loss of eyelashes)
Ocular mucous membrane pemphigoid Ocular Mucous Membrane Pemphigoid Ocular mucous membrane pemphigoid is an autoimmune disorder that scars the conjunctiva and cornea. The eyes become red, then the conjunctiva scars, eyelashes turn inward, and the cornea becomes... read more (an autoimmune disorder that scars the conjunctiva [the membrane that lines the eyelid and covers the white of they eye] and cornea [the clear layer in front of the iris and pupil])
Diagnosis of Blepharitis
Symptoms and a doctor's examination
Diagnosis of blepharitis is usually based on the symptoms and the appearance of the eyelids. A doctor may use a slit lamp What Is a Slit Lamp? to examine the eyelids more closely. Occasionally, a sample of material is taken from the edges of the eyelids and is cultured to identify the type of bacteria causing the infection and determine how sensitive it is to commonly used antibiotics.
Treatment of Blepharitis
Supportive measures (for example, compresses, eyelid cleansing)
Treatment of the cause
Certain treatments can help relieve symptoms such as irritation. Artificial tears used during the day and lubricating ointments applied at night may help. Symptoms can also be relieved with wet compresses, typically cool for allergic or contact sensitivity blepharitis and warm for all other causes of blepharitis. Occasionally, if these measures are ineffective, a corticosteroid ointment is used.
The problem causing the blepharitis is treated when possible. For example, an eye drop that seems to be causing allergic contact sensitivity blepharitis can be stopped.
To treat ulcerative blepharitis caused by bacteria, a doctor may prescribe an antibiotic ointment or drops, such as bacitracin plus polymyxin B, gentamicin, erythromycin, or sulfacetamide, or an antibiotic taken by mouth (such as doxycycline). Corticosteroids typically are not used.
Viral blepharitis is treated with antiviral pills (such as valacyclovir) that are effective against herpes simplex Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) Infections Herpes simplex virus infection causes recurring episodes of small, painful, fluid-filled blisters on the skin, mouth, lips (cold sores), eyes, or genitals. This very contagious viral infection... read more , which is the usual cause.
For blepharitis caused by seborrheic dermatitis, treatment usually includes keeping the eyelids clean by gently scrubbing the edges of the eyelids twice a day with a wash cloth or cotton swab dipped in a dilute solution of baby shampoo (2 or 3 drops in ½ cup of warm water). When seborrheic dermatitis Overview of Dermatitis Dermatitis is inflammation of the upper layers of the skin, causing itching, blisters, redness, swelling, and often oozing, scabbing, and scaling. Known causes include dry skin, contact with... read more is the cause, the face and scalp must be treated as well. Sometimes, punctal plugs (inserts that block the punctum or tear duct and thus decrease tear drainage) help.
For meibomian gland dysfunction, warm compresses may help the oil to flow from the meibomian oil glands and relieve inflammation, easing the itching and burning. Eyelid massage may help release the oil from the meibomian glands that help coat the eye. Rosacea Treatment Rosacea is a persistent skin disorder that causes redness, tiny pimples, and noticeable blood vessels, usually on the central area of the face. The cause is unknown. Typical symptoms include... read more that causes meibomian gland dysfunction should also be treated.
Drugs Mentioned In This Article
|Generic Name||Select Brand Names|
|AK-Tracin, Baciguent, BaciiM, Baci-Rx, Ocu-Tracin|
|No brand name available|
|Garamycin, Genoptic, Genoptic SOP, Gentacidin, Gentafair, Gentak , Gentasol, Ocu-Mycin|
|A/T/S, Akne-mycin, E.E.S., Emcin Clear , EMGEL, E-Mycin, ERYC, Erycette, Eryderm , Erygel, Erymax, EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythra Derm , Erythrocin, Erythrocin Lactobionate, Erythrocin Stearate, Ilosone, Ilotycin, My-E, PCE, PCE Dispertab , Romycin, Staticin, T-Stat|
|AK-Sulf , Bleph-10, Carmol, Cetamide, Klaron, Mexar, Ocu-Sul , Ovace, Ovace Plus, RE-10 , Rosula NS, Seb-Prev, Sodium Sulamyd, Sulf-10|
|Acticlate, Adoxa, Adoxa Pak, Avidoxy, Doryx, Doxal, Doxy 100, LYMEPAK, Mondoxyne NL, Monodox, Morgidox 1x, Morgidox 2x , Okebo, Oracea, Oraxyl, Periostat, TARGADOX, Vibramycin, Vibra-Tabs|