What are blepharitis symptoms and how can you prevent it?

10 May 2022

Author: Kate Green


What is blepharitis?


There are a number of conditions which can affect your eye health and often have uncomfortable symptoms. Knowing exactly which eye condition you have helps you to treat yourself as best as possible with home remedies, and also allows you to know when to seek help for something more serious. Blepharitis is a relatively common eye condition which occurs due to inflammation and infection of your eyelids. There are two different types of blepharitis so we’re going to cover the differences between each, risk factors for them, and how they can be treated.


Blepharitis can occur repeatedly over the course of your life and can begin to affect your vision, as well as causing great discomfort. Knowing what to look out for is crucial so that you can seek the relevant treatment before your symptoms begin to affect your vision.


What are the different types of blepharitis?


While most people only have one type of blepharitis at once, it is possible to suffer with both at the same time. It is not contagious so it cannot spread from person to person, but it usually affects both eyes at the same time.


Anterior blepharitis: This type of blepharitis affects the outside of your eye. Bacteria on your skin or tiny parasites (also known as mites) can cause irritation where your eyelashes meet your eyelid. In fact, one study into the causes of the condition showed that 30% of chronic blepharitis patients had mites. Anterior blepharitis can also occur due to dandruff flaking off landing near your lash line, causing irritation.


Posterior blepharitis: This type of blepharitis causes inflammation along the inner edge of your eyelid where the eyelid touches the eye. Posterior blepharitis occurs due to the eyelid oil glands clogging up, and this can be exacerbated by skin conditions like rosacea and eczema.


If you have particularly oily skin, you may also be at a higher risk of developing blepharitis, as it can lead to the oil glands in your eyelids becoming blocked.


What are the symptoms of blepharitis?


There are a number of symptoms of blepharitis. You may not experience all of them, but you could experience a combination or some of these, depending on how severe your blepharitis is, and which type you have. You may suffer with:

  • Crusting around the edge of the eyelid or eyelashes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Itchy eyes
  • Dry, red eyes
  • Tears that appear foamy
  • Excessively watery eyes
  • Flaking skin around eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Burning sensation
  • Feeling the need to blink excessively
  • Green or yellow coloured eye discharge


The list of symptoms that can be caused by blepharitis is long and many of the above points are visible ailments, as well as leading to physical discomfort. While these symptoms will usually go away once you begin to treat your blepharitis, there are also more serious issues can that develop, should you leave your blepharitis untreated for a longer period.


Can blepharitis lead to long-term problems?


If you suffer with recurrent bouts of blepharitis, or you have been dealing with the symptoms of blepharitis without seeking treatment, it is possible that you may run into some more serious issues over time. One of the most common problems is that your eyelashes begin to grow in the wrong direction, in turn causing corneal damage. This is because the surface of the cornea is disrupted and irritated with each blink.


Long-term or serious blepharitis can also lead to styes, caused by a blocked oil gland, or chalazia which occur when a stye doesn’t heal properly. Blepharitis may also cause severe dry eye which you can read more about on our blog here, as well as chronically red eyes, resulting from the constant irritation and swelling. In severe cases, you may also experience blurry vision which could occur as a side effect of a number of the symptoms listed above, such as the foreign body sensation, watering eyes, or swollen lids.


How can you treat blepharitis at home?


Most cases of blepharitis can be treated at home to help reduce the symptoms and minimise any discomfort you feel. The best thing you can do which will make the biggest difference is to mix a solution with equal parts of baby shampoo and warm water. This is a mixture which should help to soothe your eyes and remove any crusting around the eyelid. You should apply this solution with a separate cloth for each eye to prevent cross-contamination and then use two further cloths to gently dry each eye following bathing them. The use of baby shampoo should help to unblock oil glands with a gentle massage, and therefore hopefully improve your symptoms.


You may also wish to use warm compresses on your eyes to reduce any irritation or itchiness you experience as a result of the blepharitis. However, one of the most crucial steps you can take is to avoid wearing eye makeup until your eyes have fully healed. You should also throw away any eye makeup that you were using at the time that your blepharitis began, as it can harbour bacteria and could trigger another infection further down the line when you next use it.


When do you need medical treatment for blepharitis?


If you find yourself dealing with severe discomfort as a result of blepharitis, you should speak to your optician to see what further treatment they recommend. Cleaning your eyelids regularly is the main treatment for the condition, but your optician may recommend antibiotics, steroid eye drops, ointments or pills if your home treatments don’t work.


Once you develop blepharitis, it will likely recur for the rest of your life. You can read more about treatment options here but the most crucial thing is that you continue to regularly wash and cleanse your eyes to keep them at bay.

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