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Blepharitis is when the eye lids become inflamed. This can happen on the outside of the lids (anterior blepharitis) or towards the inside portion of the lids near the eye (posterior blepharitis). This inflammation can then cause the oil glands within the eyelid to not function properly. The oils the lids secrete coat the layer of tears on the eye and keep them from evaporating. Without this oil, the eyes can become dry and irritated.

What causes Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is caused by a build-up of staph bacteria that are found normally on the skin. The bacteria irritate the skin with the waste products that they leave behind on the lids. Dandruff, allergies, and acne rosacea are also contributing factors.

Symptoms of Blepharitis

• Itchiness of the eyelids and lashes

• Redness,

• Lid debris (crustiness)

• Dryness,

• Grittiness,

• Burning

• Blurred vision

How is it Treated?

Recommended treatment is lid scrubs and warm compresses. The lid scrubs can be as simple as a small amount of baby shampoo applied to a warm washcloth that is then gently scrubbed along the eyelashes. If preferred, there are some over-the-counter eyelid scrubs that can be bought at the pharmacy. These scrubs should be done once a day to prevent build-up of the bacteria.
In addition, warm compresses should be done once a day for a minimum of 5 minutes per eye. This can be done with a potato that is warmed in the microwave and then put into a cloth, a sock of dry rice heated in the microwave, or if preferred, there are specially manufactured goggles with beads that can be heated up. With each of these, it is important that it is warm to the touch and not too hot to pick up; otherwise, the eyes may be injured. The result is that the oils should flow more freely onto the eye.

What You Can Do

In addition to these daily treatments, omega 3 fatty acids found in fish and flaxseed oil have been shown to help keep the oil glands healthy and decrease inflammation. Also, be sure to fully remove any eye make-up daily as it can provide a breeding ground for bacteria.


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