In blepharitis, both upper and lower eyelids become coated with oily debris and bacteria near the eyelashes. The eye feels irritated and may become inflamed. 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. Sometimes the scaling or bacteria produce no more than minor irritation and itching, but in some they may cause redness, stinging or burning.
Blepharitis can be a stubborn problem. Although there is no specific cure, it can be controlled through a careful, regular program of hygiene. The cleansing routine below should be followed at least twice a day at first; perhaps less often as the condition improves:
• Apply warm compresses. Put clean warm washcloths on both eyes for 5 to 10 minutes. Rewarm the washcloths when they get cold Compresses help to loosen eyelash crusts, melt oil gland plugs, and decrease itching and burning.
• Gently wash your eyelids. Your eyelids should be washed after the warm water soaks. Put baby shampoo on a clean and warm washcloth. Add warm water to the shampoo. With your eyes closed, gently wash the eyelashes. Rinse away the shampoo with warm water. Alternatively, you can make a mixture of two to three drops of baby shampoo in one-half cup warm water. Dip a cotton swab or clean washcloth in this mixture. Looking into a magnifying mirror, pull your eyelid slightly forward, and clean your eyelid and eyelashes, brushing the scales away from the eyelids. This procedure should take approximately half a minute for each eyelid. Rinse your eyelid well with clean, warm water.
• Apply any prescribed medications. If medication has been prescribed, it should be applied to the eyes and/or eyelids along the lashes with a clean finger or cotton tip swab. The ointment may blur your vision for a short time.
Many medications are available for the treatment of blepharitis, including antibiotics and steroid preparations in drop or ointment form. While cortisone medications often hasten relief of symptoms, long-term use can cause some harmful side effects. Once the acute phase of the condition is overcome – a process that may take several weeks – milder medications, if any, may be helpful to control your blepharitis. However, medications alone are not sufficient; the daily cleansing routine described above is essential.
If you have any of these symptoms, please see an ophthalmologist for proper diagnosis and treatment to ensure no visual damage.