Blepharitis is a common and persistent inflammation of the eyelids which causes irritation, itching, and occasionally a red eye. This condition frequently occurs in people who have a tendency towards oily skin, dandruff, or dry eyes. Blepharitis can begin early in 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 overactivity of the nearby oil glands, causes dandruff-like scales and particles to form along the lashes and eyelid margins.
Sometimes the scaling or bacteria produce no more than minor irritation and itching, but in some they may cause redness, stinging or burning. Some people may develop an allergy to the scales or to the bacteria which surround them, leading to a more serious complication, inflammation of the eye tissues, in particular, the cornea.
Sandy, crusty or sticky feeling on the eyelids, oily discharge, redness, burning, itching, matted lashes and sometimes a blurry film in one or both eyes.
Blepharitis can be a stubborn problem. Although there is no specific cure, it can be controlled through a careful, regular program of hygiene. The cleansing routine should be followed at least twice a day at first; perhaps less often as the condition improves.
Take a clean washcloth, wet it with warm water, wring it out and place over your closed eyelids and let it soak for about five minutes. Rewet as necessary to maintain the desired temperature. This will help to soften the crusts and loosen the oily debris. Depending on how much debris there is you can either use the same washcloth to gently scrub the eyelid and eyelashes downward, gently milking them so the oil in the meibomian glands can flow freely, or you can use diluted baby shampoo on a cottonball or Q-tip and scrub the debris away. Finish by thoroughly rinsing your eyes with cool water and dry gently with a clean towel.
Many medications are available for the treatment of blepharitis, including antibiotics and steroid preparations in drops or ointments. While steroid medications often hasten relief of symptoms, long-term use can cause some harmful side effects. Once the acute phase of the condition is overcome--which may take several weeks--milder medications, if any, may be helpful to control your blepharitis. However, medications alone are not sufficient: the daily cleansing routine described above is essential.