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The experienced ophthalmologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have specialized training in diagnosing and managing eye diseases such as blepharitis, a common condition that causes inflammation in the eyelid. Our eye specialists quickly evaluate patients, providing an accurate diagnosis to begin treatment right away.

Experienced Team for Blepharitis Care

Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelid that causes itching, redness, and irritation. It usually occurs at the base of the eyelashes. Because blepharitis can recur, it can be difficult for doctors to treat and manage.

Types of Blepharitis

Blepharitis occurs in two forms, anterior and posterior:

  • Anterior blepharitis develops on the outside front of the eyelid, where the eyelashes grow.
  • Posterior blepharitis affects the inner eyelid, where the lid meets the eye.

Causes of Blepharitis

The exact causes of blepharitis are varied and include:

  • Bacterial infection (Staphylococcus)
  • Decrease in the oils produced by the eyelid

Blepharitis is more likely to develop in people who have:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis, a skin condition that affects the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, skin behind the ears, and the creases of the nose
  • Allergies that affect the eyelashes
  • Excess growth of the bacteria normally found on the skin
  • Rosacea, a skin condition that causes a red rash on the face

Blepharitis Symptoms

Symptoms of blepharitis can resemble those of other conditions, so it is important for patients to see an ophthalmologist if they have any of these symptoms:

  • Blurred vision
  • Crusty, dandruff-like scales at the base of the eyelashes
  • Dry eye
  • Redness, itching, burning, irritation, and swelling in the eyelids
  • Sandy or scratchy sensation in the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light

Complications from blepharitis include:

  • Stye, or chalazion: Red, tender bump on the eyelid
  • Tear problems: Excess tearing or dry eye
  • Cornea infections, which can threaten vision

Diagnosing Blepharitis

Blepharitis can be confused with other conditions such as ocular rosacea, episcleritis, herpetic keratitis, or conjunctivitis (pink eye). UT Southwestern ophthalmologists have advanced training and experience in evaluating patients with symptoms of eye conditions to confirm a diagnosis.

Our eye specialists can usually make the diagnosis by looking at the eyelids during an eye exam. We might take special photos of the eyelid’s oil glands to check for problems or take cultures for bacteria.

Treatment Options for Blepharitis

Blepharitis is a chronic condition that rarely goes away completely. UT Southwestern eye specialists work with patients to develop an ongoing hygiene routine to control the symptoms.

The first step in treating blepharitis is to keep the eyelids clean and free of crusts. To loosen crusts and help open clogged oil glands, apply a warm compress using a soft face cloth to the eyelids for five to 10 minutes, twice a day. After the condition is under control, a warm compress can be used once a day, usually in the morning.

After the warm compress, gently rub the eyelid with a face cloth or a cotton swab soaked in diluted baby (no tears) shampoo.

Patients with posterior blepharitis should also massage the eyelids to help move oil accumulated in the glands.

Patients who have scalp dandruff can use a dandruff shampoo to help control that condition. Those who have rosacea can receive treatment from a doctor for that condition at the same time. Topical or systemic antibiotics might be prescribed for severe blepharitis.

If you think you might have blepharitis, please schedule a visit with us.

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