Blepharitis is a term used to describe when the eyelids become red, swollen and inflammed. It is caused by the pores or glands in the eyelid becoming blocked. This in turn prevents the natural oil in the lids from coating the tear layer and keeping the eye moist and healthy.
In blepharitis the water in the eye will evaporate and the eyes will become dry and irritable.
Blepharitis is a chronic long term condition, which means you will need ongoing treatment. If left untreated it can cause infection and even longer term damage to the surface of the eye, which in turn will affect vision.
There are Three Main Types of Blepharitis
This is when the front (anterior) section of the eyelids becomes sore and irritable. This is caused by the body’s reaction to bacteria present on the eyelids. Some people show a greater sensitivity and allergy to the bacteria.
It is associated with some skin and scalp conditions, like dry or oily skin and dandruff.
This is also known as Meibomain Gland Dysfunction(MGD).
Each human eye has approx 80 glands in each eye, 50 behind the upper lid, and 30 behind the lower lid. When they become blocked, they cannot release the oil which is used to lubricate the eye keeping to tear layer more viscous. Without the oil, the eye loses its natural tear layer to evaporation, thus causing the cornea to become dry. This can cause infections, scarring and a reduction in vision.
Demodex Blepharitis is a type of blepharitis which is caused by the Demodex Mite.
This mite lives in the hair follicles on the face and the eyes and is most prevalent on the eyelashes.
Demodex mites emerge from under the skin at the bash of the eyelash root at night to eat dead skin cells, mate and lay eggs and expel waste products into your eyelid glands and eyelash follices.
These mites naturally occur on the skin in small numbers, and they can actually be benefical as they remove dead skin cells.
As long as they occur on the skin in small numbers, they typically don’t cause any harm.
They become a problem when they reproduce in large numbers. When this happens it is called an infestation, and they can cause significant damage to the skin and eyes.
They cause Eczema, dry, red, itchy skin and severe inflammationof the eyelashes, and damage to the oil producing meibomain glands.
SYMPTOMS Of DEMODEX BLEPHARITIS
1. Burning and Stinging.
2. Dry Eyes
3. White Crust/Flake in eyelashes
4. Eye Irritation and Inflamation.
5. Foreign Body Sensation.
Blepharitis is very common in people over the age of 50, also in people with dry skin, acne rosacea, diabetes, poor hygine, saborrheic dermatitis and demodicosis.
Also if you are allergic to dust and bacteria.
Blepharitis causes crusty scales to deposit on the base of the eyelashes, this is where the bacteria grows. The eyelid will become red and inflammed and your eyes will feel gritty, sore, itchy and experiance sharp painful stabbing symptoms.
There are lots of different products which can be used to treat blepharitis. Historically, your optician used to say to use hot water with baby shampoo as it would not irritate the eye too much.
However recently this method has come into question as the allergens in the baby shampoo may adversly affect the eye.
Baby shampoos were not designed to be used on the eyes and lid hygine and treatment options have changed.
Studies have shown the main treatment for blepharitis is HEAT.
This is then followed by wiping the eyelids with a sterile pad or an individual moist wipe.
The heat is delivered by a heated mask which is placed over the eyes, the heat is used to unblock the Meibomian Glands and they can start to relese to eyes natural oils.
In order for the heat to be effective it must be at 35*c temperature for a period of at least 5 mins, This is because the glands will only unblock at a heat of 30*c and as they are situated behind the eyelid 5*c is absorbed by the eyelid.
Traditional heat masks are ones which you put into the mircowave and then apply to your face.
The drawback with them, is they are only hot enough for about 30 secs, after that they go too cool and will not work, and will need to be reheating again.
At GTTM we use a mask which delivers this heat at a constant rate over the whole 10 mins, opening up all the pores and relesing the oils.
Once a treatment is completed you can use the sterile pads and wipes , or even warm water with cotton balls or make up removal pads. It may take two weeks to start to see an improvement in the condition, but using our eyebag will speed up this process.
You shoulkd continue the treatment twice a day for at least 1 month, then you can reduce to once a day as symptoms get better. You must keep using the mask even when you dont have any symptoms to prevent any recurrance.
Blepharitis Treatment Method
1. Wash Hands before and after cleaning your eyelids and using your mask.
2. Apply GTTMs heated mask for 5 mins.
3. Rub a sterile pad moistened with warm wateralong the eyelid marginsto remove the crusts and debris.
4. Use a fresh pad or wipe each time.
5, Re-apply the GTTM’s heated maskfor 5 mins.
6. Dry your eyes gently.
Treatment Of Demodex Blepharitis
Your Optometrist can tell you if your blepharitis is caused by Demodex Mites as they can look on a slip lamp with a high magnificationto see the mites on your eyelids.
The most effective treatment is to use our eye mask, followed by applying TEA TREE OIL to a sterile pad and carefully cleaning the eyelid margins. You should hold your eyelid down away from your eye when clean the bottom lid and hold it up when cleaning the top lid. This is to prevent any of the tea tree oil getting into your eye.
This will kill the mites and eliminate the infection.
In very extreme cases your GP can prescribe antibiotic ointment applied to the eyes or steriod eye drops.
Some patients can benefit from oral antibiotics, particularly when the blepharitis is associated with a skin condition such as acne roseaea, These antibiotics are usually required for at least four to six weeksand may need to be continued for a number of months due to the chronic nature of the disease.