What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common and persistent inflammation of the eyelids. Symptoms include irritation, itching, and occasionally, a red eye.
This condition frequently occurs in people who have oily skin, dandruff, or dry eyes. Blepharitis can begin in early childhood, producing “granulated eyelids,” and continue throughout life as a chronic condition, or develop later in life.
Bacteria reside on the surface of everyone’s skin, but in certain individuals they thrive in the skin at the base of the eyelashes. The resulting irritation, sometimes associated with over-activity of the nearby oil glands, causes dandruff-like scales and particles to form along the lashes and eyelid margin. In Blepharitis, both upper and lower eyelids become coated with oily debris and bacteria near the base of the eyelashes. The eye feels irritated and may become inflamed. Regular, thorough cleansing of the lid margin helps control Blepharitis.
Blepharitis occurs in two forms:
- Anterior Blepharitis – affects the outside front of the eyelid where the lashes are attached. The two most common causes of anterior Blepharitis are bacteria (staphylococcus) and scalp dandruff.
- Posterior Blepharitis – affects the inner eyelid (the moist part that makes contact with the eye) and is caused by problems with the oil glands (meibomian glands) in this part of the eyelid. Two skin disorders can cause this form of Blepharitis: acne rosacea, which leads to red and inflamed skin, and scalp dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis).
For some people the scales or bacteria associated with Blepharitis produce only minor irritation and itching, but in others they may cause redness, stinging or burning. Some people may develop an allergy to the scales or to the bacteria which surround them. This can lead to a more serious complication — inflammation of the eye tissues, particularly the cornea (the clear “front window” of the eye).