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What is blepharitis?


What is blepharitis?

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common ophthalmic condition where the eyelid becomes inflamed. The ensuing redness, swelling and irritation is characteristic of the condition. 

It is not infectious and does not compromise eyesight. Episodes can be recurrent and chronic blepharitis can cause long term alteration of the eyelid. It is most prevalent at the extremes of age with young children and the elderly most affected [1]. There are a number of forms described, including:

  • Staphylococcal (caused by a common bacteria that lives on the skin surface)
  • Meibomitis (blocked glands, just behind the lash line of the eyelid),
  • Parasitic (caused by demodex eyelash mites for example)
  • Seborrheic (caused by dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows)
  • Mixed

Blepharitis is thought to be caused by a combination of blocked oil ducts at the eyelash base with an overgrowth of local bacteria in the tissues of the eyelid. [2] Local infection and hay fever may also precipitate the condition.

A swollen red eye: key symptoms and signs

Consider Blepharitis as a key cause of a sore red eye. This inflammatory condition causes irritation with itching, burning, tearing and a gritty sensation at the eyelid. [3] The lids may also crust and stick together with this stickiness often worse in the morning. 

Blepharitis can cause stye or chalazion (a palpable blockage of eyelid oil glands) formation. Photophobia and some blurring of the vision with increased blinking may also be reported. 

Without treatment, blepharitis tends to have cycles of worsening and remission. The lash line can become damaged with individual lashes growing in the wrong direction.

Managing blepharitis

Education is prevention

Educating patients and advising them on eye care is key to preventing or reducing the frequency of episodes of blepharitis. Hygiene of the eye area with washing of the eye area with attention to the eyelid and lash line with a mild soap has been shown to be effective. [1]

Conservative treatments

Affected eyelids should be washed with a warm soapy flannel and good rinsing to remove debris, reduce local bacteria and loosen and lift crusting. Rubbing the lash line with a moist cotton swab can also bring relief. Warm compresses applied to the eye also deal with oily build ups and also provide symptomatic relief. [4]


Both oral and topical antibiotics are used to treat blepharitis. A low dose antibiotic may be used to deal with the bacterial element of the condition.


Chronic inflammation and irritation may be tackled with steroid containing eyedrops or creams applied to the eyelid.

Hyperchlorous Acid

This substance as an ingredient in eye hygiene products has been shown to reduce the bacterial load and alleviate symptoms.

Free consultation Suitability Test

This article is not a substitute for a consultation with your surgeon. Before choosing to proceed with laser eye surgery your surgeon will have a detailed discussion with you about the right procedure and about the potential complications.