Blepharitis is a condition where the edges of the eyelids become inflamed (red and swollen). It is a common condition, accounting for an estimated 1 in 20 eye problems reported to GPs. Blepharitis can develop at any age, but is more common in people over 40.
Signs of blepharitis can include:
- itchy and sore eyelids
- eyelids that stick together and are difficult to open, particularly when you wake up
- eyelashes that become crusty or greasy
What causes blepharitis?
Blepharitis can be caused by an infection with Staphylococcus bacteria, a mite known as Demodex or as a complication of a skin condition, such as:
- seborrhoeic dermatitis – a condition that causes the skin to become oily or flaky
- rosacea – a condition that causes the face to appear red and blotchy
Blepharitis is not contagious.
How blepharitis is treated
Blepharitis can sometimes be a long-term condition. Most people experience repeated episodes, separated by periods without symptoms. Blepharitis cannot always be cured, but a daily eyelid-cleaning routine that involves applying a warm compress – gently massaging your eyelids and wiping away any crusts – can help control the symptoms. More severe cases are treated with a topical disinfectant solution of hypochlorous acid that is applied to the eyelids directly.
Blepharitis is not usually serious, although it can lead to a number of further problems. For example, many people with blepharitis also develop dry eye syndrome (a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears or dry out too quickly), which can cause your eyes to feel dry, gritty and sore. Serious, sight-threatening problems are rare, particularly if any complications that develop are identified and treated quickly.