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What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is an infection of the eyelids and eyelash follicles and is due to bacteria called Staphylococcus or sometimes parasitic mites called Demodex. It is the commonest cause of red, scratchy, dry eyes and eye specialists see it all the time. You will not know what the cause of your red, scratchy, dry eyes is until you have been examined by an eye specialist or optometrist at a slit lamp (microscope).

30% or more of children and adults suffer from Blepharitis! 66% of elderly people suffer from blepharitis.
This is huge!

Blepharitis is so often undiagnosed because it causes the same symptoms as dry eye and allergies. Patients will often talk about “scratchy eyes, dry eyes, heavy/tired and sore eyes, sensitive eyes,” but there is underlying blepharitis causing those symptoms.

Also dry eye, allergies + blepharitis are often part of a triad called ocular surface disease .All 3 conditions need addressing in order to alleviate the problem.

Lubricating eye drops, antihistamines (oral eye drops or both) plus lid hygiene + scrubs and /or antibiotics, topical treatment /oral antibiotics can be prescribed by your eye specialist.

Eyelash extensions are a foreign object to the eye and can be a casual factor of blepharitis and /or allergies. A good eyelid hygiene regime is important when women wear eyelash extensions.

One of the commonest micro-organisms causing blepharitis is staphylococcus. Another cause which is very common is Demodex blepharitis.

Demodex is a particularly nasty little mite which sleeps inside your eyelash follicles during the day and only comes out to excrete or procreate on your eyelashes at night! These excretions (and the mite itself) are very irritating to your eyes, especially in the mornings when you wake up. If you have Demodex blepharitis you will suffer from red, sore, scratchy eyes especially in the mornings. Temporary relief is experienced by washing your eyes or splashing them with water.

Your ophthalmologist may prescribe antibiotic or cortisone ointment for a limited time if the infection is severe enough.

A very effective way of getting the eyelids clean is using an eyelash/eyelid cleaner shampoo such as Chrissanthie Eye lid cleanser with tea tree oil.

Yours in Good Eye-Health

Dr Chrissie Cockinos (Ophthalmologist, Sandhurst Eye Centre)