Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS
Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Blepharitis facts
- What is blepharitis?
- What causes blepharitis?
- What are the symptoms and signs of blepharitis?
- How is blepharitis diagnosed?
- What are complications of blepharitis?
- What is the treatment for blepharitis?
- What is the prognosis for blepharitis?
- Find a local Eye Doctor in your town
What causes blepharitis?
Blepharitis involves the eyelid margins, where the eyelashes grow and the openings of the tiny oil glands are located. There may be involvement of the skin adjacent to the outer edges of the eyelid margins and/or the inner edge of the eyelid that comes into contact with the eyeball secondary to the underlying disorder of the lid margins.
Most cases of blepharitis are posterior blepharitis, due to inflammation of the meibomian glands of the lids. There are about 40 of these glands in each of the upper and lower lids. The eyelid margins can become inflamed, irritated, and itchy when these glands produce abnormal secretions. Blepharitis is often seen in patients with acne rosacea, a generalized illness of oil glands.
Anterior blepharitis is due to inflammation of the lid margin around the lashes. Seborrheic blepharitis is similar to dandruff of the scalp. Staphylococcal blepharitis is a result of bacterial infection of the lashes. Microscopic mite infection causes demodex blepharitis.
Allergies due to reactions from mascara, contact lens solutions, sprays, exposure to animals, environmental chemicals, or airborne allergens can also cause blepharitis.
Less commonly, inflammation of the lids can be caused by head lice.
What are the symptoms and signs of blepharitis?
Signs and symptoms of blepharitis usually are present in both eyes, affecting the upper and lower lids. They can appear at any age.
Symptoms (what you feel in the eyes or eyelids) include
- itchy or irritated eyelids,
- mild tearing,
- dryness of the eyes,
- burning sensation,
- gritty or sandy sensation,
- foreign-body sensation (the feeling that something "may be in the eye"),
- crusting of the eyelids,
- decreased comfort while wearing contact lenses, and
- sensitivity to light.
Signs (observations that you make) of blepharitis include
- red eye lid margins,
- swollen eyelids,
- increased shedding of skin cells near your eyelids, causing flaking of the skin around the eyes,
- matting of the lashes or eyes "glued together" in the morning,
- eyelids that appear greasy and crusted with scales that cling to the lashes,
- crusted eyelashes upon awakening,
- tears that are frothy or bubbly in nature,
- eyelashes that grow abnormally,
- loss of eyelashes,
- mild scarring of the eyelid margins,
- mild ulceration of the lid margins,
- dry and flaky patches of skin on the lid, and
- dandruff of the lashes and eyebrows.
The symptoms and signs of blepharitis are often erroneously ascribed by the patient as being due to "recurrent conjunctivitis." They are also often mistakenly attributed to "dry eye" by patients due to the gritty sensation that may occur. Lubricating drops, however, do little to improve the condition.
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