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Blepharitis is a common condition that involves an inflammation of the eyelids (blepharo-lid, itis-inflammation). The causes of blepharitis are usually noninfectious. In unusual cases it may be due to bacterial, viral, chlamydial or fungal organisms. Most commonly it is due to inflammation associated with skin problems or systemic disorders.

The lids contain skin, eyelashes (cilia), and meibomian glands. At the base of the lashes (lash follicles) are special glands, which, along with the meibomian glands, secrete an oil or lipid material that, floats on the tear film and prevents evaporation of the tears. Blepharitis involving these glands can affect the oily layer of the tear film leading to increased evaporation and dry eye symptoms.

Symptoms of Blepharitis
  • Itchy, burning, watery eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Sticky discharge that causes the eyelashes to stick together
  • Redness of the eyelid edges
  • Frequent sty formation
  • Tiny pimples on the eyelid edges
  • Scaly skin flakes along the eyelid margins
  • Gritty sensation leading to irritated eyes and light sensitivity
  • Blurred vision

Other factors that are important in the cause of blepharitis include scalp and facial skin diseases such as seborrhea, rosacea, psoriasis or other eczema-like skin diseases.


Careful evaluation of the eyelids and the eye by the eye doctor is used to determine what is causing the symptoms that you may have. At times, samples are taken from the surface lining the lids and the secretions from the meibomian glands to determine if there is any infection.


The mainstay of treatment for blepharitis is eyelid hygiene. Often, there is dry, crusted material along the lid with plugged meibomian glands. The application of heat helps to dissolve these secretions. This is accomplished by applying a warm washcloth to the closed eye for 5 minutes at bedtime and upon awakening. The washcloth can then be dipped in a mild solution of warm water and baby shampoo and using a finger wrapped in the washcloth, the lid margins and eyelashes can be scrubbed.

At bedtime, an ointment may be prescribed for you to apply to the eyes and to the eyelids. Ointment may be placed in the eye by gently pulling the lower lid down and squeezing small amounts of the ointment onto the inner surface of the eyelid.

Artificial tears, antibiotic and or cortisone drops may be used if there is significant infection or inflammation. These drops should be used only as directed by the eye doctor

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