Eye Matters
September 30, 2005
Chronic Blepharitis – it can be controlled

As we have mentioned before, as the years roll by and we get older, the possibility of the appearance of different diseases and affections gets greater and our eyes and their annexes (exterior muscles of the eye, eyebrows, eyelids, eyelashes, conjunctiva and the tear ducts) are of no exception, reason for which today’s chat will be dedicated to chronic blepharitis. {{more}}

Chronic blepharitis can be defined as a chronic inflammation of the edge or margin of the eyelids (more frequent in the upper one); it is generally bilateral and characterized by redness, swelling and removable crusts or scales (“dandruff”).

What is the cause of this ocular affliction? In more than 50% of the cases it is produced by seborrheic dermatitis (a skin disorder that causes itching, flaking, and inflammation) and in a smaller percentage it is produced secondary to infections (staphylococcus).

This disease can have an early debut in childhood or at any other time in life but it is much more commonly seen around 60-70 years of age and aggravated in the presence of smoke, smog and chemical substances.

When the patient comes to see us redness of the eyes and of the eyelids’ edge is noted. The patient also complains of burning, itching, tearing and the scales in the eyelashes.

Treating chronic blepharitis first starts with treating the base disease (seborrheic dermatitis) with the diverse amount of medicinal shampoos available and with restriction in the intake of greasy foods. Local treatment of the area would be aimed at decreasing the acute flare-ups seen in the disease.

This is usually achieved by using antibiotic eye-drops during the day and antibiotic eye-ointments at nights accompanied by warm compresses 4-6 times daily, and removal of the scales once or twice a day with a non-irritant shampoo and cotton bud. Upon following this regimen for about 10 days the acute signs should disappear and the patient much alleviated.

We must remember however that this disease is a chronic one and whilst it may be possible to control the acute crisis, it is not a curable ailment- it is the equivalent to “dandruff” and of utmost importance would be to maintain an adequate life-long personal hygiene for aging does not mean that we have to abandon our personal care.