If you haven’t heard of Blepharitis then that’s got to be good, since that means that neither you nor anyone you know has suffered from this annoying eye disease.
Fortunately if you do start to show symptoms it’s quite straightforward to treat and usually clears up in a few weeks, and basically requires some re-education in the basic laws of eye cleanliness. If the condition does become chronic, then a management programme can be put in place to minimise its long term effects.
Blepharitis is essentially an eyelid infection that leads to inflammation and one that can affect people of all ages.
It has been associated with a weakened immune system and even with particular groups such as Ashkenazi Jews who are more prone than normal to Blepharitis in the eyes, and Pemphigus, a disorder of the mouth, but the numbers are not totally conclusive.
The immune system breakdown theory is further evidenced by recommendations that a nutritious diet that promotes an effective immune system can substantially improve resistance to recurring Blepharitis symptoms.
Types of Blepharitis
The term Blepharitis is used to describe a number of conditions all related to eyelid problems, and researchers have come up with a number of ideas to categorize them.
According to type of infection:
• Seborrheic – as the name suggests, a dandruff-like flaking of the skin on the eyelids
• Infectious – due to fungal infection, mite infestation or plain bacteria.
According to location:
• Anterior – on the outside of the eyelid from where eyelashes grow
• Posterior – within the eyelid, usually resulting from abnormal workings of the meibomian glands that produce oils necessary for eye surface lubrication
Essentially being an eyelid disease it’s not surprising that most of the symptoms are related to inflammation of the eyelids along with crusty eyes and flaking skin, particularly in the mornings.
Eyes may become red, blotchy and somewhat swollen, and the whole area of eyelids and lashes can become inflamed.
The main cause is presence of infectious bacteria on the eyelids, with other less likely causes being allergies and on occasion dust mites.
Blepharitis cannot be cured – that’s the bad news.
The good news is that with a strict regime of eye hygiene, the preferred treatment, the symptoms are controlled to an extent that the disease is hardly noticed. That’s not saying of course that flare ups are not going to occur.
A simple technique of using a very weak solution of a baby shampoo applied with a cotton bud to the eyelids makes for effective cleanliness. A daily cleaning process helps to stop any build up of oils and any increase in bacteria that could follow.
Over the counter medications can prove effective in reducing symptoms, but in very chronic cases, reliance on prescribed drugs such as doxycycline or eye ointments and drops may be necessary.
A therapeutic optometrist is probably the best professional to see to manage this annoying condition.
Diet may help
Since the disease is thought to be related to immune deficiency it is essential that sufferers take Omega 3 supplements to further enhance a nutritional diet high in anti-oxidants and foods that provide natural immunity; improvements in health should be noticeable within several weeks.