Blepharitis is inflammation of the margins of the eyelid. It may be seen at any age but is quite common in the elderly. Blepharitis may be difficult to manage since it tends to recur. While blepharitis is generally not sight threatening, severe disease can occasionally result in corneal scarring or ulceration and vision loss.

There are two types of blepharitis:

Anterior Blepharitis: This affects the eyelashes and results either from staphylococcal infection or scalp dandruff.

Posterior Blepharitis: This affects the inner eyelid and affects the Meibomian (oil) glands of the eyelid. It is commonly associated with Acne Rosacea.

Symptoms of blepharitis include foreign body or burning sensation, excessive tearing, red and swollen eyelids, redness of the eye, itching, sensitivity to light (photophobia), blurred vision, frothy tears, dry eyes or crusting of eyelashes on waking up and loss of eyelashes.

Treatment: Blepharitis is an ongoing condition and regular long-term treatment can help improve the symptoms. Management of blepharitis includes keeping the lids clean and free of crusts.

  • Warm compresses should be applied to the lid for 3-5 minutes to loosen the crusts (see Figure 1).
  • This is followed by light vertical massage of the eyelid with a cotton swab to express the Meibomian secretion (see Figure 2).
  • Eyelid scrub with a face washer or cotton swab is used to clear the scale and debris that have collected at the eyelid margin (see Figure 3).

If the blepharitis is severe, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotic or steroid eyedrops. Some patients may be prescribed oral antibiotics too.

Lubricating eye drops can be used to treat the dry eye associated with blepharitis.

Recent studies have suggested that increased intake of essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids and flaxseed oil is beneficial for blepharitis.