Blepharitis — inflammation in your eyelids — is a prevalent problem that can affect people of all ages, though it’s more common among adults over the age of 50. In fact, blepharitis is almost more of a symptom than a standalone problem, as the inflammation and irritation can be caused by many conditions. Identifying the condition behind your blepharitis can help us bring you relief more quickly.
At Suburban Eye Clinic, Dr. Phillip Wu and our team of ophthalmology experts understand the different causes of blepharitis, and more importantly, the discomfort that comes with this condition.
In the following, we explore some of the telltale signs of blepharitis so that you can recognize the problem, which allows us to diagnose and treat you more quickly.
Common signs of blepharitis
The most common signs of blepharitis include:
- Swollen or inflamed eyelids
- A gritty or burning sensation in your eyes
- Excessive tearing
- Crusty eyelids
- Dry eyes
In more severe cases, blepharitis can lead to blurry vision and/or corneal inflammation, which is why it’s important to seek our help at the first signs of a problem. In fact, the longer the blepharitis goes untreated, the greater your risk of developing a secondary infection as you rub your eyes and spread the infection.
The importance of a proper diagnosis
When it comes to your delicate eyes, seeking a diagnosis with us is important because blepharitis can develop for many reasons. When you come in, our first order of business is to identify the underlying cause of your blepharitis so that we can get you the treatment you need.
There are two main types of blepharitis:
This type of blepharitis is typically caused by bacteria or dandruff (in your scalp or in your eyebrows). While bacteria normally exist in and around your eyes, when you have too many or your eyelids react adversely to their presence, an infection can develop. In less common cases, allergies or eyelash mites (called Demodex mites) can lead to anterior blepharitis.
This form of the condition can be caused by a malfunction in the oil glands in your eyelids, which is called meibomian blepharitis. Posterior blepharitis can also be attributed to rosacea or dandruff.
Whether your blepharitis is anterior or posterior, left untreated, it can lead to problems like ulcerative blepharitis, in which you develop crusts around your eyelids that create sores when you remove them. As this problem advances, you can even develop inflammation in your cornea.
To avoid these complications, we urge you to see us if you're experiencing any of the symptoms we describe above. To determine which type of blepharitis you have, we perform a series of tests, including:
- Visual exam
- Tear film analysis
- Gland imaging
- Allergy testing
- Omega-3 fatty acid analysis
These diagnostic tools allow us to pinpoint the problem so that we can devise an appropriate treatment plan that brings you relief and protects your eyes.
If you have any questions about blepharitis, or you suspect you might have developed this disorder, contact our office in Evanston, Illinois, to set up an appointment.