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Eye care information on diseases and treatments
Introduction to Blepharitis
The common complex eye disorder known as Blepharitis is difficult to cure. The margins of the eyelids, which contain tiny hair follicles and oil glands known as Meibomian glands become inflamed. The result is infection, pain and swelling. It is sometimes not immediately diagnosed correctly as it shares symptoms with several other eye disorders.
Blepharitis is not a contagious disease. When it occurs it affects both eyes simultaneously. Although it is an irritating condition it does not typically result in blindness or scarring.
The disorder is hard to treat because the condition tends to occur repeatedly and become a life long eye affliction. In the last few decades, however there has been progress when it comes to the development of medicines and approaches to treating it.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
Symptoms of blepharitis include eye redness, inflamed and swollen eyelids, burning and itching lids, watery eyes, sensitivity to light, crusty lids and blurry vision. In severe cases the eyelashes fall out and the cornea is affected.
Types of blepharitis
There are three types of blepharitis and all are chronic in form. These are staphylococcal, seborrhea, and Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
Staphylococcal blepharitis is bacterial infection of the eyelashes and eyelid skin that is characterized by scaling and crusting. It is most common in people in their forties. An acute chronic phase lasts about one year and eight months and recurs in cycles.
Seborrheic and MGD blepharitis sufferers are usually elderly and have already experienced a number of other kinds of eye problems. For instance, in seborrheic blepharitis, there is greasy scaling along the eyelashes first.
Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) cause prominent blood vessels to cross the margin of the eyelid. This causes plugging of oil glands. MGD mainly strikes those who already have seborrheic dermatitis or rosacea.
Causes of Blepharitis
Bacteria, allergies dandruff, poor hygiene, and dysfunctional oil glands around the eyelids most commonly cause blepharitis. rosacea, poor eyelid hygiene, excessive oil produced by the eyelid glands and allergic reactions. Age in general is also considered to be a cause of blepharitis.
The main trigger is an overgrowth of dandruff, bacteria or rosacea on the edges of the eyelids. This creates a moist environment for bacteria to thrive in including oil secretions and scaly skin. The condition can be aggravated by poor hygiene, which causes the margins of the eyelids to create irritating toxins. The glands of the eyelids, also known as Meibomian oil glands, can also become infected.
The potential for infection is great because there are about thirty Meibomian oil glands on the margin of each eyelid. Some people produce too much oil and it clogs the gland. This can lead to the formation of a painful stye on the lid.
Individuals with the skin condition known as "rosacea" tend to be more prone to contracting blepharitis than others.
Blepharitis is also a side effect of the drug isotretinoin, which is used to treat cystic acne.
Treatment of Blepharitis
Blepharitis can only be managed and not cured. The first step is to keep eyelids clean of the offending agents. This can be done by using warm compresses and keeping the eyelids clean.
Cleaning the eyes with soap is thought to be effective because it is alkaline and kills bacteria. Alcohol is also thought to be effective in treating the tradition.
There is no cure for this disease. It needs long-term treatment. The first and the critical step is to keep the eyelids clean of the offending agents. One of the oldest and most common ways to do this has been to use warm compresses and cleansing by lid scrubs.
Severe blepharitis is usually treated with antibiotics. However doctors do not like to prescribe them as many people nowadays are developing a resistance to them and it can cause the blepharitis to rebound and become even more chronic with long term use. Antibiotics are usually prescribed as drops for the eyes or as a topical cream for the eyelids.
Tetracycline type drugs are most effective for blepharitis patients who have rosacea and in patients with recurring staphylococcal blepharitis. Steroid drops may also be prescribed for severe cases. If scalp dandruff is present then dandruff shampoo is recommended to keep bacteria at bay and from falling into the eyes.
The most important aspect of treating blepharitis is good hygiene. It is the only way to keep the bacteria at bay. Good hygiene is also the only way to keep the condition from becoming really annoying and chronic.