Ever heard of Blepharitis? Chris Connolly from Connolly Opticians explains more…
Blepharitis is a common eye condition that can develop at any age, it often leads to itchy, red and sore eyes. At Connolly Opticians, we treat people for the condition, using fast, safe and cost-effective treatment methods to relieve any symptoms.
What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid margins. It is often split into two types, Anterior Blepharitis affecting the base of the eyelashes and Posterior Blepharitis, which affects the oil producing glands (Meibomian Glands) at the back part of the lid margin. Posterior Blepharitis is also known as Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Blepharitis is a chronic condition which needs proper management.
Anterior Blepharitis usually occurs when the natural Staphylococcal bacteria found on the skin cause an infection of the eyelid margin at the bottom of the eye lashes. Sometimes it is caused by a form of dermatitis. The bacteria deposit debris at the base of the eyelashes. As the eyelashes grow, this debris appears to move up the eyelash and can be seen by the optometrist using a slit lamp.
Although the bacteria are harmless on your skin, they are troublesome. They can travel down the eye lashes into the hair follicle and cause a Stye. They can spread to the wet skin on the inside of the eyelid (Conjunctiva) and cause bacterial Conjunctivitis, which generally presents as a red sticky eye. The bacteria can also cause a corneal ulcer about 1mm in from the edge of the cornea, known as a Marginal Keratitis.
Posterior Blepharitis (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction)
You have about 23 Meibomian glands on each eyelid. The bacteria can react with the oils produced by the Meibomian gland and form a clear waxy plug which blocks the gland. If they travel down into the gland a Meibomian Cyst or a Chalazion can form. A Chalazion is a hard lump inside the eyelid. The Meibomian Gland Dysfunction often causes dry eye issues. Patients with dry eyes report that it feels like they have sand in their eyes.
If left un-checked Blepharitis can lead to in-turned eyelashes, corneal inflammation and scarring.
Treatment for Blepharitis
There are a number of ways that Blepharitis can be treated.
1) Do nothing – if a patient has very low grade Blepharitis and is asymptomatic, we would advise that treatment was not required. Patients would be advised to return if symptoms start to occur.
2) Hot Compress – Applying a hot compress will help with the crusty collars that form around the eyelashes and relieve some of the discomfort. A drawback of this treatment however is that the heat doesn’t have much impact on the Meibomian Glands.
3) Baby Shampoo – Historically the baby shampoo method was developed by Ophthalmologists as a pre-op procedure for patients having cataract surgery. The technique became widely adopted as a method of controlling Blepharitis. The main issues with the baby shampoo method is that it is also not a sterile process and it destroys the oily layer of the tear film, creating a dry eye problems. This method would cost the patient around £3.50.
4) Lid Wipes and Lid Foam – These products are specifically designed to clear the bacteria from the lid margin without affecting the tear film. Each wipe is sterile, unlike the baby shampoo method, providing a safe and cost-effective means of treating the problem. This method would cost the patient around £13.00.
5) EyeBag – The EyeBag contains flax seeds and it is placed in a microwave for 30 seconds. The warm EyeBag is then placed on the eyelids for 10 minutes. This is repeated 3 times a day. The Eyebag retains the heat long enough to soften and clear the waxy plugs in the Meibomian Glands. This method is more often used in conjunction with Lid Wipes. The cost to the patient is about £20.00 plus the cost of the lid wipes.
If you have been experiencing any symptoms of Blepharitis, make sure you don’t let it go untreated. Get in touch with the friendly team at Connolly Opticians on 01698 824777 and we will be more than happy to help to relieve you of your symptoms or alternatively click here to book an appointment.