What Is It?
This is a condition that effects the glands of the eyelids is commonly termed granulated eyelids. It is quite common, but often goes unrecognized. This disease effects people of all ages.
Some of the symptoms include: itching, foreign body sensation, burning, pain, dryness and even headaches. Some of the signs of blepharitis include: loss of eyelashes, recurring sties and eyelid bumps, redness, blurring vision that may change with blinking. Blepharitis frequently leads to dry eyes.
When this disease is confined to the eyelids, it is mostly a nuisance. Sometimes, however blepharitis spills into the eye causing some potentially serious eye problems. Along the eyelid margin, just behind the base of the eyelashes are rows of glands that produce oil for the tears. These are called the meibomian glands. The upper lid has about 40 glands and the lower has about 25. These glands are constantly making a thin oil to help lubricate the eye surface during blinking.
The Meibomian Glands can become quite sluggish. As the flow of oil slows, the glands produce a thicker oil, which becomes stagnant. Bacteria from the skin is able to enter the glands making the thick oil murky. The most common bacteria to invade the Meibomian glands is STAPH.
The thickened secretions can be seen to build up and dry along the bases of the eyelashes. Sometimes the gland stops flowing completely. This can lead to a painful sty. If the gland does not resume flow, it may become a chronic bump that must be excised with minor surgery.
Treatment of blepharitis is aimed at trying to control the symptoms. This is accomplished by removing the build up of toxins from the eyelash bases with lid scrubs. Hot compresses help to stimulate the oily glands to secrete faster. Decreasing the number of bacteria with antibiotics (ointment or pills) is helpful. One can’t eliminate all the bacteria. In fact, the bacteria in proper amounts serve a helpful purpose. Using artificial tears during the day help wash toxins from the eyes. Also they lubricate the inflamed surface of the eye, making it feel better.
The regimen is recommended for helping with the signs and symptoms of blepharitis. It does not eradicate the disease, which can lead to frustration. Like most forms of arthritis, blepharitis can be improved, but not eliminated.
- Clean the eyelashes with a dilute solution of baby shampoo nightly. A q-tip or soft washcloth can be used. Make sure the base of the lashes are cleaned. There are lid scrub kits available at the pharmacy if desired.
- After cleaning the lids, take a wet, hot cloth and place them over the closed lids for several minutes. (as much heat as tolerable)
- If an ointment is prescribed use a small amount along the inner surface of the lower lid. It will migrate throughout the eye surface and upper lid. This will blur the vision so do it last before going to bed. The ointment is used 7 nights in a row, then usually once a week thereafter. Most ointments have a mild steroid so they are not to be used more frequently than this regiment. Serious side-effects could result.
- Over-the-counter lubricating drops can be used as often as desired during the day. Try to use these at least 3-4 times per day.