Eyelid Inflammation: Blepharitis
Eyelid Inflammation: Blepharitis
Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. It's a common cause of sore, red eyelids and crusty eyelashes. Eyelid inflammation is very common and can affect people of all ages.
There are several possible causes of blepharitis, including:
Bacterial eyelid infection
- Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD)
- Dry eyes
- Fungal eyelid infection
- Parasites (Demodex eyelash mites)
Blepharitis and dry eye soften occur at the same time, causing confusion whether dry eye causes blepharitis or blepharitis causes dry eye.
This happens so often that some researchers and eye doctors now believe these two conditions may be part of a single chronic eye problem called dry eye blepharitis syndrome (DEBS).
Blepharitis usually is associated with an overgrowth of bacteria that live along the margins of the eyelids and at the base of the eyelashes. Over time, these bacteria multiply and create a structure called a biofilm.
This biofilm becomes a toxic environment — like the plaque that forms on your teeth. Parasitic eyelash mites called Demodex feed on the biofilm, which in turn leads to an overgrowth of these mites that causes a worsening of the eyelid inflammation.
Bacteria in the eyelid biofilm also produce substances called exotoxins that cause inflammation of oil-secreting glands in the eyelids called meibomian glands. This causes a condition called meibomian gland dysfunction, which causes (and worsens) dry eye discomfort.
Blepharitis also is frequently associated with skin conditions, such as ocular rosacea, eczema, dandruff and psoriasis. And often, blepharitis and pink eye occur at the same time.
- Burning or stinging eyes
- Crusty debris at the base of eyelashes
- Irritated, watery eyes
- Itchy eyelids
- Grittiness or a foreign body sensation
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The Ophthalmologist: Clinical and Therapeutic Journal