What Causes Blepharitis?

If your eyelids are swollen and inflamed, you may have blepharitis. Blepharitis can also cause your eyelids to feel itchy, and they may even be crusty when you wake up in the morning. 

Blepharitis is common among adults and frequently affects the eyelids’ edge. This condition can also occur in children and is typically present in both eyes. 

Though it may be a chronic condition, you can stay on top of treatment with the help of your eye doctor. While it’s irritating, it is not a threat to your vision. 

Keep reading to learn more about blepharitis and what causes the eye condition!

Types of Blepharitis

Blepharitis can arise from certain skin conditions or an overgrowth of bacteria on the eyelid that leads to infection. There are two main types of blepharitis.

Where the condition occurs determines which type you may have.

Anterior blepharitis affects the front exterior rim of the eyelid where the eyelashes emerge, creating irritation and making your eyelid red and swollen.

Posterior blepharitis affects the underside of the eyelid. This is where the meibomian glands are located. 

The meibomian glands produce oil that helps to lubricate and protect the eyes, keeping moisture in. When these glands are blocked and oil production is reduced, your eyes become dry. 

Symptoms of Blepharitis

If you have blepharitis, you likely have scaly, itchy eyes. You might experience eye discharge that dries and forms crusts around the lashes and eyelid edges. 

Your eyes may feel gluey or stuck together when you first wake up. While normal discharge is clear or white, blepharitis causes yellow or green discharge and crusts. 

Blepharitis can also make your eyes feel gritty or sandy like there is something in them.

Other symptoms can include:

  • Burning eyelids
  • Excessive blinking
  • Blurry vision
  • Dry eye
  • Excessive tearing
  • Flaky skin around the eyes and eyelids
  • Light sensitivity
  • Eyes that are red and irritated

Causes of Blepharitis

Typically there isn’t just one single cause of blepharitis. Several conditions can trigger the development of the condition.

Those with anterior blepharitis might also have one or more of the following:

  • Rosacea, which causes skin inflammation.
  • Allergic reactions to contact lens solutions, eye drops, makeup, or facial lotions.
  • Dandruff flakes which irritate eyelids and cause inflammation.
  • Dry eye, reducing the moisture in the eye and increasing the risk of infection.
  • Demodex lice or mites which are a type of parasite found in the eyelashes.

Those with posterior blepharitis typically have meibomian gland dysfunction. Meibomian gland dysfunction causes blockages of the eyelids’ oil-producing glands, leading to dry eye. 

Skin conditions such as rosacea or dandruff are also contributing factors. 

At-Home Blepharitis Treatments

Keeping your eyelids clean and free of irritants is an essential first step in managing blepharitis.

Scrub your eyelids with an over-the-counter eyelid wash or diluted baby shampoo. Use a fresh washcloth for each eye.

Try a warm compress on your eye. Wet a washcloth with warm water, fold it to fit over your eye and leave it on until it cools. 

Skip the eye makeup or eye lotions, and give your eyelids a rest.

Wear glasses instead of contact lenses when you have a particularly bad flare-up.

Medical Treatments for Blepharitis

If you continue to experience irritation and discomfort, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor at Mid Ohio Eye. Diagnosing blepharitis includes understanding your health history, performing an external eyelid exam, and swabbing your eyelids for lab testing.

They may also take a sample of your tears to see if dry eye is a contributing factor, and they may examine your eyelashes for mites. Depending on the results, your eye doctor may prescribe an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication.

Are you experiencing symptoms of blepharitis? Schedule an appointment at Mid Ohio Eye in Columbus, OH, today!