Blepharitis

What Is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is inflammation of the oil glands in your eyelids. It’s the most common cause of dry eyes.

Blepharitis Symptoms

The condition makes your eyelids red, itchy, and a little swollen. The bases of your eyelashes may look scaly. You might also notice:

  • Feeling like something is in your eye
  • A burning feeling in your eye
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Crusty eyelashes when you wake up in the morning

Blepharitis Causes

Things that cause blepharitis include:

Blepharitis Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms. They might also:

  • Look closely at your eyelids, your eyelashes, and the texture of your skin
  • Use a magnifying device to look at the edges of your eyelids and the openings of the glands there
  • Check that your eyes are making enough tears
  • Take a sample of material from your eyelids to check for bacteria

Blepharitis Treatment

There’s no cure for blepharitis. But you might be able to manage and treat it by taking care of your eyelids.

Warm compresses can help soften crust and loosen oily debris. Follow these steps:

  • Wet a clean washcloth in warm (not hot) water.
  • Wring it out and place it over your closed eyelids for 5 minutes.
  • Wet it again as necessary to keep it warm.

Keeping your eyelids clean may also ease symptoms:

  • Make a solution that’s half baby shampoo and half water. Put a clean cloth over your index finger and dip it into the mix.
  • Close one eye. Gently rub the washcloth over your eyelashes and the edge of your lids for about 30 seconds to loosen clogged oil. Apply light pressure along your eyelashes to squeeze out clogged oils from the glands behind your lashes.
  • Rinse thoroughly with a clean, warm, wet washcloth. Pat dry. Then do the other eye.

Depending on the cause of your blepharitis, your doctor might recommend:

Researchers are still studying other treatments involving pulsed light or heat.

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Blepharitis Complications

The inflammation of blepharitis can lead to complications such as:

  • Loss of eyelashes
  • Excess tears
  • Dry eyes, possibly raising your chances of a cornea infection
  • Clogged glands that might get infected (stye) or form a lump (chalazion)
  • Scarring on your eyelids
  • Cornea inflammation

Blepharitis Prevention

A few lifestyle changes might help keep blepharitis away.

  • Keep your eyelids clean.
  • Remove all eye makeup before bed.
  • Don’t use eyeliner on the back edges of your eyelids, behind the lashes.
  • If you’re in the early stages of treating blepharitis, prevent further irritation by not using makeup.
  • Once you start to use it again, replace products that you use in or near your eyelids. They may be contaminated.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Whitney Seltman on April 16, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Optometric Association: "Blepharitis."

National Eye Institute: "Blepharitis."

Merck Manual Consumer Version: “Blepharitis.”

American Academy of Ophthalmology: “Blepharitis Treatment.”

UpToDate: “Blepharitis.”

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