Blepharitis is estimated to affect more than 82 million people in the United States, and many people may suffer from multiple episodes of the condition during their lifetime. This common eye condition causes red, swollen, and itchy eyelids. Although not serious, it can lead to other eye problems which can have more serious consequences for your eye health and vision. Here’s what you need to know about blepharitis, what causes it, how to identify it, and the treatments that are available.
Blepharitis is characterized by the inflammation of the rims of the eyelids. This inflammation causes them to become swollen and red. The condition isn’t contagious but instead is usually caused by an excess of bacteria on the eyelids at the base of the eyelashes. It’s normal to have some bacteria present on the face, but if you don’t clean it often enough or properly, the bacteria multiply and cause irritation and soreness. Blepharitis is also caused by the oil glands serving the eyes becoming clogged/irritated.
Although blepharitis can develop at any age, it is particularly common in younger children and senior patients. Patients with skin conditions such as seborrheic, rosacea, and teenage eczema are also more likely to experience blepharitis.
One of the most challenging aspects of blepharitis is that the symptoms are not always consistent. Many patients find that their symptoms come and go and vary significantly in their severity. Nevertheless, the following are some of the most common symptoms associated with the condition:
- Sore eyelids
- Itchy eyes
- Redness of the skin around the eyes and eyelids
- Eyelids that stick together when you wake up in the morning
- A gritty feeling in the eyes
- Flaking or crusting around the roots of the eyelashes
- Eye fatigue
Many people with blepharitis find wearing contact lenses to be uncomfortable. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, we strongly recommend that you make an appointment with our eyecare team for an assessment.
Blepharitis is usually considered to be a chronic, long-term condition that comes and goes. You may find that your symptoms go into remission for months or even years before the condition returns again. Unfortunately, there isn’t currently a cure, but there are things that you can do to treat blepharitis and minimize the likelihood of it reoccurring.
The most important thing that you can do to protect your eyes from blepharitis is to be strict when it comes to cleaning your face and eyes. This is the best way to remove bacteria from the eyes and prevent it from building up and causing symptoms. People with blepharitis are recommended to clean their eyes using a clean cotton pad or similar and cool boiled water at least three times each day. Once the symptoms are under control, you should continue to clean your face at least twice each day – once in the morning and once again before you go to bed. Your pre-bedtime ritual is particularly important as it gives you the opportunity to remove any of the dirt from the day before you go to sleep.
People who suffer from blepharitis are also advised to avoid using contact lenses during an episode as their condition makes it hard to put them in, remove them, and for them to be comfortable. You should also avoid eye makeup such as eyeliner or mascara.
Severe cases of blepharitis may need to be treated using an oral antibiotic or antibiotic ointment. Our team will be happy to advise you which treatment will be most effective for your case.
If you would like more information about blepharitis, please contact Santa Barbara Eyecare in Santa Barbara by calling 805-967-9990.