Blepharitis means chronic inflammation of the eyelids and eyelashes. It is one of the most frequent reasons for visits to the ophthalmologist's office and can occur at all ages; it is more common as we get older. It is often characterized by irritation, itching, and commonly redness. The eyelids may become red, swollen and tender. Often patients awaken with crusted eyelids in the morning and the eyes may be stuck shut. The eyes then may feel sandy and gritty throughout the day. With chronic inflammation, loss of eyelashes may occur and may lead to the formation of a stye or chalazion. In more serious cases, blepharitis may contribute to redness of the mucous membrane around the eye.

Treatment consists of warm compresses, lid scrubs and medication.
To perform lid scrubs:

  • Hold a warm, wet washcloth on the eyelid margins for a few minutes
  • Put one or two drops of baby shampoo on the wet washcloth
    (pre-made lid scrub pads are also commercially available)
  • Lather up the shampoo on the washcloth
  • Close one eye and gently scrub the lid margins and eyelashes with the washcloth -Rinse with warm water
  • Repeat on other eye

Medication is often necessary in more serious cases and may be in the form of eye drops, ointment, or oral antibiotics. Ointment is usually applied after performing lid scrubs in the evening. Place a small amount of the ointment on the end of a clean finger and gently massage it into the upper and lower eyelashes prior to going to bed. In the morning a warm wet washcloth can be used to wash the ointment from the eyelashes.

Blepharitis is a chronic condition and can be quite an annoyance. It may require the use of lid scrubs and medication on an ongoing basis, although the frequency can often be adjusted. Some patients find the need to treat on a daily basis while others find they can reduce the treatments to just a few times per week or month. If treated appropriately, blepharitis can often be easily controlled. If you are having continued difficulties or worsening of your blepharitis symptoms, please make arrangements for a follow-up appointment so we can possibly alter your treatment regimen to help you.