HEALTHMedical

Blepharitis

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about BLEPHARITIS.

Blepharitis is the “inflammation of the eyelids”,  a condition that results in the eyelid margins becoming inflamed. It usually is chronic, causing irritation on and off and often results in the eyelids becoming swollen, crusted and red. Blepharitis is derived from the Greek word “blepharos“, which means “eyelid” and “itis” which means inflammation.

It is similar in nature to chronic skin conditions like eczema except that blepharitis affects the eyelids and that too mainly the eyelid margins. Ladies especially find it a problem because it makes their eye makeup application difficult.

SYMPTOMS

The eyelids usually appear crusted, red and swollen. The crust is yellowish-white and powdery like the scalp of a person who suffers from dandruff. There may be varied symptoms. In most cases, the eyes become itchy, irritated and sometimes feel dry due to the disruption of the layer of tear film that is normally present in the eye. Contact lens wearers may complain of discomfort and a gritty sensation. This is often mistaken by the layman as “dry eyes”.

Symptoms of blepharitis may include the following:

  • Swollen and red eyelids
  • Crusting on the eyelashes
  • gritty, burning or itching feeling in your eyes
  • eyelids sticking together
  • scaly or greasy eyelids
  • difficulty in wearing your contact lenses
  • blurred vision when the eyelid produces the oily secretions that get in to the eye.

People with skin conditions such as rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis (like dandruff in the scalp) are more prone to blepharitis. The increased oil produced by the glands near the eyelid margins causes excess bacterial growth resulting in inflammation and redness. Another cause may be contact dermatitis due to allergies from a new makeup that you may have just started on.

CAUSES OF BLEPHARITIS

When the oil glands at the eyelid margins malfunction and produces too much oil (sebaceous secretions), blepharitis can occur. At times, it may be associated with an underlying skin condition called Acne rosacea where there is already a generalised illness of the oil glands of the skin. Allergies to certain cosmetics like mascara, eyelid lotions, contact lens solutions, allergens in the air and some chemicals may also trigger blepharitis.

ASSOCIATED PROBLEMS

Blepharitis may cause the following:

1. STYE:

This occurs when the oil glands of the eye gets infected. A lump appears on the eyelid margin in a localised area. There may be some pus seen on the tip of the stye (appearing like a pimple about to rupture), with surrounding redness of the eyelid.

2. CHRONIC CONJUNCTIVITIS:

Blepharitis may cause recurrent bouts of conjunctivitis or pink eye. If this happens, eliminating this underlying problem is essential.

3. CORNEA ULCERS:

Due to chronic irritation by the inflamed eyelids and or a misdirected eyelash growth, an ulcer may form on the cornea. Corneal ulcers are serious conditions.

More on blepharitis in the next issue of Ipoh Echo.

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Dr S.S. Gill

Dr S.S. Gill is a Resident Consultant Ophthalmologist at Hospital Fatimah, Ipoh. For more information on Eye Health, call Gill Eye Specialist Centre at Hospital Fatimah 05 545 5582 or email: gilleyecentre@dr.com.

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