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What is Blepharitis?

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Definition

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid margin, which often occurs together with meibomitis, a blockage of the oil glands of the eyelids, which are located at the lid margin. Interference of normal function of these oil glands can reduce the quality and smoothness of the tear film.

Cause

Blepharitis and meibomitis may be caused by chronic infection, most often from Staphylococcus or Demodex. Blepharitis may also occur as a form of eczema, or as a manifestation of rosacea.

Symptoms

Patients with blepharitis may experience itchy, gritty or burning eyes. The eyes may appear red, and the irritation is often worse in the morning than it is late in the day. The eyelid margin may appear slightly thickened or red, and flakes or crusting along the eyelashes may occur.

Treatment

Warm compresses are applied to the eyelids to soften the blockage of the oil glands. Lid scrubs are used to clear bacteria and crust buildup from the eyelids. Artificial tears are used to supplement the tear film. In some cases, an antibiotic drop or ointment is indicated. In chronic blepharitis associated with ocular rosacea, an oral medication may be prescribed.