What is blepharitis and how can it be treated?

Blepharitis is one of the most common eye problems that any ophthalmologist sees. It’s incredibly common. The term blepharitis means, bleph means eyelids, itis means inflammation. So it’s a term which covers many different types of conditions, in all of which inflammation on the very edge of the eyelid is the core abnormality or core sign that we see.

Why blepharitis happens.

Typically what we think happens is that we live, many of us, in cities with poor quality air and with lots of pollution. And what happens is these particles and this pollution tend to… When they enter our eyes, they tend to build up or accumulate on the edges of the eyelids. This, combined with collections of dead skin, of oil products on the oil glands, and bacteria living on the edges of our eyelids, kind of forms an irritant layer or kind of a toxic collection on the edges of the eyelids. And in some patients, when this reaches a critical amount, they notice that they develop irritation, grittiness, soreness, and tiredness in their eyes.

The different types of blepharitis.

There are lots of different sub-types of blepharitis. Some people, the irritation is mostly on what we call the anterior or the front part of the eyelid. Some people it is in the middle. And some people it is on the back surface of the eyelid that the blepharitis is most active.

The different treatments for blepharitis.

There are slightly different treatments depending on which type of blepharitis you have, but the core principles of treating blepharitis are to treat the cause, but also treat the effect, so the manifestations. So in terms of treating the cause, removing the layer of pollutants, debris, and skin, dead skin, from the edges of the eyelids is extremely important, and there are numerous proprietary wipes and special eyelid hygiene wipes that you can use to do that. But then, in terms of treating the consequences, which is the damage on the surface of the eye, the irritation, and the inflammation, very often a course of anti-inflammatory and sometimes antibiotic eye drops are required to settle down any inflammation that has been stirred up as a consequence of blepharitis. There is no one single drop. It is very much a set of treatments, both cleansing
and sometimes nutrition, also combined with medication that we can prescribe as consultant ophthalmologists. It is a set of treatments which typically settle down blepharitis within a period of four to six weeks.

About the Author

Mr Alex J Shortt

MB BCh MSc PhD FRCOphth PGDipCatRef
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon

Alex J Shortt is a Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon at Grange Eye Consultants. With many years of experience and expertise in Corneal surgery, Cataract surgery, and Refractive surgery, he is providing his patients with a wide range of treatment options. As he has worked as a consultant and trainer in advanced technologies for correcting vision for over 14 years, he has a broad knowledge of various eye conditions and can, therefore, find the best suitable solution for every individual client. Apart from working as an Ophthalmic Surgeon, Dr. Shortt is also involved as an editorial board member of the Cochrane Collaboration’s Eyes and Vision Group and expert advisor to the European Medicines Agency.