‘Blepharitis’ – The inflammation of the eyelids

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. The membrane covering the inside of the eyelid and white of the eye may also become inflamed.

What causes blepharitis?

Bacteria (germs) on the eyelids or on the skin around the eyes can cause blepharitis
Dandruff or oily skin can also cause blepharitis.
Wearing contact lenses or make-up can make the symptoms worse.
Blepharitis is not always curable but it can be controlled.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Oil and bacteria coat the eyelids near the base of the eyelashes. You may then have:
Redness of the eyelids
Swelling and tenderness of the eyelids
Itching around the eyelashes
Greasy flakes or scales around the eyelashes
Hard crusts at the base of the eyelashes. These crusts may cause the eyelashes to fall out.
Flakes or crusts can form during the night. If this happens, it may be hard for you to open your eyes in the morning. If blepharitis is not treated promptly, it can lead to a cyst (an inflammation of an oil gland on the eyelid) or a stye (an infection at the base of an eyelash).

Treating blepharitis:

Your eye doctor can most often diagnose blepharitis by checking your eyelids closely. To treat the problem, you need to keep your eyelids clean. Your eye doctor may also give you medication.

Self-care:

A warm compress helps reduce redness and swelling and will keep the eyelids clean. You may also need to clean your eyelids when you wake up.

How to apply a warm compress:

Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Wet a clean washcloth with warm water. Then wring it out.
Close your eyes and place the washcloth over your eyelids for three to five minutes. This helps loosen scales or crusts.
Wet the washcloth again as often as needed to keep it warm.
Repeat two or more times a day. Use a clean washcloth each time.

How to use an eye-lid scrub:

Wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Use a ready-made eyelid scrub. Or mix 3 drops of baby shampoo in ¼ cup of warm water.
Dip a lint-free pad, cotton swab, or clean washcloth in the scrub.
Close one eye and scrub the base of the eyelid.
Rinse the lid in cool water and dry with a clean towel.
Repeat on the other eye.

Medication:

Your eye doctor may prescribe eye-drops or ointment to help relieve redness, swelling and irritation. When applying ointment or drops, make sure that the tip of the tube or bottle does not touch your eyelid.

He may also prescribe oral antibiotics, or antibiotic ointment or drops with cortisone.These help clear up a bacterial infection, a cyst, or a stye on the eyelid. Irrespective of the prescribed medication, you still need to use warm compresses and eye-lid scrubs.

Follow-up appointments:

Your doctor needs to recheck your eyes during your treatment. That way, he or she can be sure the inflammation is controlled. Regular eye examinations are also the best way to prevent other eye problems. Many eye diseases have no symptoms until the eye is already damaged. Early detection and treatment can help prevent more severe problems.

Tips for prevention:

To help keep your eyes from becoming inflamed:
Wash your hands well with soap and warm water before touching your eyes.
Wash your hair often.
Keep contact lenses and lens solutions clean.
Do not wear eye make-up while your eyes are inflamed.
Moreover, buy new eye make-up often.