Blepharitis symptoms and signs include:
- Watery eyes
- Red eyes
- A gritty, burning or stinging sensation in the eyes
- Eyelids that appear greasy
- Itchy eyelids
- Red, swollen eyelids
- Flaking of the skin around the eyes
- Crusted eyelashes upon awakening
- Eyelid sticking
- More frequent blinking
- Sensitivity to light
- Eyelashes that grow abnormally (misdirected eyelashes)
- Loss of eyelashes
The exact cause of blepharitis isn't clear. It may be associated with one or more factors, including:
- Seborrheic dermatitis — dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows
- A bacterial infection
- Clogged or malfunctioning oil glands in your eyelids
- Rosacea — a skin condition characterized by facial redness
- Allergies, including allergic reactions to eye medications, contact lens solutions or eye makeup
- Eyelash mites or lice (see picture below)
When to see US
If you have blepharitis symptoms and signs that don't seem to be improving despite good hygiene — regular cleaning and care of the affected area — make an appointment with us
Tests and procedures used to diagnose blepharitis include:
- Examining your eyelids. Our doctors will carefully examine your eyelids and your eyes. He or she may use a special magnifying instrument during the examination.
- Swabbing skin for testing. In certain cases, our doctors may use a swab to collect a sample of the oil or crust that forms on your eyelid. This sample can be analyzed for bacteria, fungi or evidence of an allergy.
Self-care measures, such as washing your eyes and using warm compresses, may be the only treatment necessary for most cases of blepharitis. If that is not enough, our doctors may suggest prescription treatments, including:
- Medications that fight infection. Antibiotics applied to the eyelid have been shown to provide relief of symptoms and resolve bacterial infection of the eyelids. These are available in a variety of forms, including eyedrops, creams and ointments. If you don't respond to topical antibiotics, your doctor may suggest an oral antibiotic.
- Medications to control inflammation. Steroid eyedrops or ointments may help control inflammation. Your doctor may prescribe both antibiotic and anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Medications that affect the immune system. Topical cyclosporine (Restasis) is a calcineurin inhibitor that has been shown to offer relief of some signs and symptoms of blepharitis.
- Treatments for underlying conditions. Blepharitis caused by seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea or other diseases may be controlled by treating the underlying disease.