If your eyelids are inflamed or swollen you might have a common condition known as blepharitis. Although the outlook for patients with blepharitis is good, the condition will likely need ongoing treatment.
Symptoms of blepharitis
• Burning sensation
• Feeling there is something in the eye
• Excessive tears
• Light sensitivity
• Red, swollen eyelids
• Blurred vision
• Frothy tears
• Crust on the eyelids after sleeping
Patients with blepharitis may also appear to have scales at the base of the eyelashes, and some eyelashes may fall out. There are two basic types of blepharitis:
• Anterior blepharitis causes swelling and other symptoms on the outside of the eyelid, where the eyelashes attach. This can be caused by bacterial infection, or by scalp dandruff.
• Posterior blepharitis causes symptoms on the moist inner part of the eyelid that comes in contact with the eye. This condition is typically caused by problems with the oil glands in the skin of this part of the eyelid and may be the result of acne rosacea or scalp dandruff.
In rare instances, blepharitis may also be caused by allergies, or by lice infesting the eyelashes. Blepharitis often occurs in patients who have styes in the eye which are caused by blocked oil ducts. When the glands around the eyes produce excess oil, bacteria that are normally present on the skin may find a favorable environment to multiply, leading to blepharitis.
Treatment for blepharitis
Because blepharitis is caused by a build-up of excess oil around the eyes, the treatment for the condition involves keeping the eyelids clean. If they eyelids are crusty, a warm compress can help loosen the crust. The eyelids can then be gently scrubbed with a cotton swab using water and mild baby shampoo. In severe cases, an eye care expert may also prescribe antibiotics or steroids to help treat the condition. Because excess oil will continue to be produced, most patients must continue cleaning their eyelids daily for the rest of their lives.
In cases where a contributing condition is present it’s also important to treat that condition. Patients with scalp dandruff should use appropriate dandruff shampoo. Patients with acne rosacea should see their doctor for treatment of that condition. Patients with posterior blepharitis, which occurs on the inside of the eyelid, may also need to massage the eyelids to release excess oil from the glands to prevent it from building up.
If daily cleansing of the eyelids does not relieve symptoms after several days, or if your symptoms get worse, see your eye care professional for further evaluation.