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Crusty Eyelids and Blepharitis

What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common condition in which the eyelids become chronically inflamed and irritated. Blepharitis can cause corneal scarring and vision loss if left untreated.


Symptoms of blepharitis vary with the severity of conditions but usually include:

  • crusting and flaking of the skin at the base of the eyelashes
  • recurrent styes
  • recurrent conjunctivitis
  • dry eyes
  • chronic allergies
  • light sensitivity
  • red eyes
  • foreign body sensation

What Causes Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is caused by overactive oil secretion glands along the eye lash line. This causes a dermatitis type skin irritation resulting in redness and inflammation along the eyelash line and flaking of skin. Acne rosacea can also be a contributing factor to blepharitis.

How is Blepharitis Diagnosed?

Blepharitis needs to be diagnosed by an Optometrist who will perform a slit lamp (lighted microscope) examination to inspect the eyelids.

How is Blepharitis Treated?

Treatment of blepharitis is based on the severity of the condition. In mild cases of blepharitis with no significant symptoms, no treatment is needed. Lid hygiene is probably the most effective treatment for moderate cases of blepharitis. A simple solution of baby shampoo and warm water applied to the eyelids with a Q-tip can be very effective. Pre-prepared over-the-counter lid scrub kits are also available.

For more severe cases of blepharitis, oral antibiotics such as doxycycline can be used for long-term treatment. Topical ointments such as erythromycin or tobramycin/dexamethasone steroid applied to the eyelids can also be effective in treating blepharitis. Extreme cases of blepharitis can be treated with oral prednisone but significant side effects can occur.

Blepharitis is a chronic problem and there is no cure. Flare-ups are common after months or even years of stability. It is best to consistently treat blepharitis to prevent flare-ups. Please consult your optometrist to determine which treatment option is best for you.

What Steps Should I Take If I Think I Have Blepharitis?

We recommend that you see Dr. Reinders if you have any eyelid inflammations or possible eye infections. He has 22 years of experience in treating blepharitis and related conditions. As with any eye problem, it is best to have the proper diagnosis and start treatment before the condition gets more serious.