What Causes Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a condition that causes the eyelids to become inflamed with oily, crusty debris and/or bacteria around the base of the eyelashes. What causes it, and what can be done to relieve the symptoms?  Elmquist Eye Group can help determine what is causing the condition and identify the most appropriate treatments.

Elmquist Eye Group has served families in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lee County and Southwest Florida for more than 20 years. E. Trevor Elmquist, DO is a board certified ophthalmologist and has been selected as one of America’s Top Doctors in ophthalmology by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. His partner, Kate Wagner, OD, and associate, Nina Burt, OD, are board certified optometrists who provide a complete range of eye care services.

Types of Blepharitis

What Causes Blepharitis?There are two types of blepharitis, and they are typically classified based on whether the location of the problem is at the front or the back of the eyelid.  It is possible to have one or both types.

Anterior blepharitis affects the outer side of the eyelid (near the eyelashes). It may be caused by an infection – usually bacterial and usually staphylococcal. It may also be caused by an allergic reaction, by dandruff of the scalp or eyebrows, or a combination of causes.

Posterior blepharitis affects the inside of the eyelids, behind the eyelashes. This form of blepharitis specifically affects the very tiny glands (called meibomian glands) that secrete oil onto the surface of the eye. Bacteria can grow when these glands become blocked or when they secrete too much oil. This form of blepharitis is often associated with acne rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis.

Symptoms of Blepharitis

The most obvious symptoms of blepharitis are redness and itchiness of the eyelids and crusty debris around the base of the eyelids. This may be more noticeable when you wake up in the morning.

Some patients also experience a sensation of burning, or a sensation that there is a foreign body or grittiness in the eyes. Your eyes may water excessively or be oversensitive to light. You may also experience intermittent blurred vision.

Blepharitis can affect males and females, children and adults, and people of all ethnicities, although it is more common in people over the age of 50. It’s common for the condition to affect both eyes. It’s also chronic, which means that once you’ve had it, it can come and go, even after you have cleared it up.

Examination and Treatment

To determine if you have blepharitis, your eye doctor at Elmquist Eye Group will discuss your symptoms with you and examine your eyelids, eyelashes and eyes. We may also do a test to determine if there is any evidence of a bacterial infection.

Blepharitis cannot be cured, but treatment is successful at managing symptoms. Treatment involves keeping your eyelids clean and free of crusty debris. This may include regularly applying warm compresses to the lid to loosen the crusty debris and cleansing the eyelid as recommended by your eye doctor.  Your eye doctor may also prescribe antibiotics or medicated eye drops or creams.

Blepharitis sufferers may be interesting in an innovative, in-office spa therapy treatment developed by Dr. Elmquist, called Spa Scrubs. Treatment takes place in a serene, relaxing setting in our Fort Myers office. The doctor carefully expresses the eyelid glands to clear out any signs of infection. This therapy has provided relief for many of our patients.

To learn more about what causes blepharitis, about treatment, or about our innovative Spa Scrubs therapy, call (239) 936-2020 for an appointment today!