What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a common and persistent inflammation of the eyelids.
It can begin in early childhood 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 margins. If these particles fall into the eyes they cause a foreign body sensation and cause the eyes to become red.
Sometimes an allergic reaction on the surface of the eye can also occur. Alternatively, certain bacteria cause foaminess of the lid margins.
For some people the scales or bacteria associated with blepharitis produce only minor irritation and itching, but in others they may cause stinging, burning and redness. It can have an ongoing, chronic but fluctuating course.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
65% of dry eye suffers have a lipid deficiency caused by a blockage of the meibomian glands – known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Meibomian glands are the oil-producing glands located in both the upper and lower eyelids. This oil helps to stop the water in the tear from evaporating, thus helping to prevent dry eyes. With meibomian gland dysfunction and blepharitis the oil becomes thicker than normal which can lead to blockages of the narrow duct which takes the oil from the gland to the tear film. This creates a vicious cycle causing less oil productions, more dryness, more inflammation and more blockages causing less oil production.
Symptoms of blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction
- Blurred vision
- Burning sensation
- Watery eyes
- Scratchy/gritty/sandy sensation
- Sensitivity to light
- Feeling of “something in my eye”
The condition frequently occurs in people who have oily skin, dandruff or dry eyes and it can be associated with Acne Rosacea.
What causes blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction?
The common reason for blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction is ageing, because both eyes tear flow rate and effectiveness of your tear film decrease with age.
Other factors which can cause blepharitis include certain medications (taken for other conditions) can affect the glands around the eye. Also, some diseases such as Sjogren’s Syndrome which is experienced by suffers of rheumatoid arthritis can cause dry eyes.