Blepharitis is very common and is the medical term for an inflammation of the rims of the eye lids. The eyes may feel sore, stingy or gritty and the eyelid rims may be slightly red or itchy. You may also notice crusting along the base of the eyelashes.
The eye lids have tiny glands (Meibomian glands) in them, particularly along the bottom rim, which produce the oily layer of the tear film. This film helps the tears spread over the eye and prevents evaporation of the tear film.
As you get older, and particularly if you have dry skin or dandruff, these glands can block.
This disrupts the delicate tear film and causes dry eye symptoms, including irritation and grittiness.
Treatment is needed to unblock the glands in the eyelids, and to replace the tears and lubricate the eyes if they are dry.
Blepharitis is not a serious condition, and there is rarely any damage to the eyes, although it is often chronic (long-term) and treatment needs to be continued indefinitely.
Methods of Treatment:
- Hot Compress
In order to unblock the tiny glands, heat and a small amount of pressure are recommended.
This is best achieved with the eye mask (heated in the microwave) and left in place for 10 minutes, followed by gentle massage.
Alternatively a face cloth can be heated under hot water and then used as a hot compress over the lids for 10 minutes (you will need to continually reheat the face cloth).
Continue this treatment twice a day for 2 weeks, followed by lid cleaning.
- Lid Cleaning
The best way to clean the lids is with a specialised lid cleaning wipe or solution, which contains formulated products. Rub along the eyelid rims to remove any crusts and debris. Continue this treatment twice a day for 2 weeks, and then once a day indefinitely.
- Ocular Lubricant
These eye drops assist the spread of your own tears and lubricate the eye. They can be used as regularly as needed. E.g. Systane, Oxyal, Hycosan.
- Antibiotic Treatment
Occasionally if the above treatment methods are not successful, then your GP may need to prescribe antibiotic eye drops/ointment or rarely even antibiotic tablets.
- Healthy Diet
A certain antioxidant, resveratrol, found especially in the skin of black grapes has been found to help with Blepharitis. Also, a diet low in saturated fats and high in fish oils can reduce symptoms of dry eye.
If you are concerned with your eyesight and want to have a consultation with your local optometrist, please visit the practice to make an appointment or call to speak to one of our staff members on 0115 933 2999.