Have you ever heard of a condition called blepharitis?
It is often wrongly diagnosed as conjunctivitis and some of the symptoms are similar.
However, the treatment can vary, so today I’m going to explain what this less common condition is and how you can make sure you recognise it.
Let’s start from the very beginning – what is blepharitis? It’s a condition which can leave the rims of the eyelids inflamed. This can cause your eyelids to feel sore and itchy and occasionally they might develop a crust.
Sufferers may also find that their eyelids feel like they are burning or stinging and it often affects both eyes.
While it isn’t a really serious condition it can’t be cured and once blepharitis has developed you might experience repeated episodes.
Blepharitis is also more common in people who have other dry eye conditions.
A daily eye cleansing routine can help keep the annoying symptoms at bay. Sufferers commonly have long periods without any problems in between incidents.
So, what causes it? Blepharitis is often caused by a bacterial infection but people with skin conditions, such as rosacea and seborrhoeic dermatitis, are at increased risk.
And what does it look like? It’s worth pointing out that symptoms of blepharitis tend to be worse in the morning so sufferers might not always see all of the following – however, the most common symptoms are:
* Red, sore, itchy eyelids
* Crusty eyelashes, causing sticky eyelids
* A gritty sensation as if something is stuck in the eye
* Increased sensitivity to light
* Swollen eyelids
* Dry eyes that water, particularly when exposed to wind.
Blepharitis can affect the inside and outside of the fronts of the eyelid.
Any of the above mentioned symptoms should be investigated for treatment to avoid other related complications, such as eyelash loss and sight deterioration.
Treatment for blepharitis focuses on good eye hygiene. This is something that should become a routine thing for sufferers, just like brushing your teeth.
Your first step should be to make or get hold of a good cleansing solution. You can make your own using one part baby shampoo to 10 parts warm water, or one teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate, dissolved in a cup of water. Alternatively you can buy a lid cleaning solution.
Apply a damp cloth or a warm compress first, as this will help to loosen any crusting, and then cleanse with the solution using cotton buds.
This should be repeated at least twice a day when symptoms are bad.
Reduce this routine to once a day when symptoms improve.
Any eye make-up worn when symptoms started should be thrown away. And it is best not to wear eye make-up at all until the condition has cleared up.
If the above cleansing regime does not help remove symptoms you might have to be combine it with some topical antibiotic drops.
These should be used after cleansing the eyelid and before bed – a total of three times per day.
Allow the drops to absorb for five minutes before applying anything else to the eyelid.
Contact lenses must not be worn whilst using the drops. In fact it is best not to wear them until the condition has cleared completely.
If the condition is not responsive to either type of these treatments then oral antibiotics may be an option to consider.
Consult your GP if you feel that there has been no improvement.
For any other information regarding eye hygiene please consult your local pharmacy.