Your eyes are an extremely delicate part of the body. Even your eyelids and the skin around your eyes is sensitive, and should be handled with care. Eyelids are the folds of skin that cover your eyes and protect them from any substances and injury. Your eyelids also have eyelashes with short hair follicles on the end of the lids and these hair follicles have oil glands. What happens is that these oil glands can at times become clogged, which then leads to certain eyelid disorders. One of these disorders is known as eyelid inflammation or also called blepharitis. Blepharitis generally affects both eyes along with the edges of your eyelids. Eyelid inflammation mostly develops when the small oil glands close to the edge of the eyelashes become clogged, triggering irritation and redness.
Many diseases and health conditions conditions can cause blepharitis. However, it is very rare that the eyelid swelling will disappear completely. Even after receiving full treatment, the condition is recurring and demands daily attention and care using eyelid scrubs. If you do not recover from treatment or only one of the eyes is affected, the condition could also be caused by a localized eyelid cancer. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Shilpa Goel, Ophthalmologist, Eye Surgeon, Meddo Vision Plus Eye Clinic, about the types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of blepharitis.
Here are the 2 main types of blepharitis or eyelid swelling:
1. Anterior eye inflammation
Anterior eye inflammation mainly develops on the outer part of your eyes around your eyelashes. The factors behind this type of blepharitis are dandruff on your eyebrows and allergic reactions in your eyes.
2. Posterior eyelid inflammation
The second type of eyelid inflammation is posterior eyelid inflammation. Posterior eyelid inflammation develops on the inner part of the eyelids closest to your eye. This type of inflammation is caused by oil gland misfunction behind your eyelash follicles.
Eyelash loss is a possible complication of eyelid inflammation. This can be caused by any damage to the hair follicles, which can make your lashes grow incorrectly.The signs and symptoms of blepharitis are generally more severe in the morning as soon as you wake up. Eyelid inflammation is mostly visible as it is discomforting and irritates your eyes, even having an impact on your vision. As per Dr. Shilpa, here are the symptoms of eyelid swelling:
- Red eyes
- Watery eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Eyelid sticking
- Itchy eyelids
- Greasy eyelids
- Crusted eyelashes
- Burning sensation in the eyes
- Flaky skin around the eyes
- Frequent blinking
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
What causes blepharitis?
The actual cause of blepharitis or eyelid swelling is unknown. In some situations, it can be contagious and spread from one person to the other person as well. The exact cause of eyelid inflammation cannot always be identified, but distinct reasons can become a major risk factor for delevoping blepharitis. There is also a greater risk if you also have dandruff on your scalp or eyebrows. It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to chemical substances and many other cosmetic products you apply around your eyes, leading to eyelid swelling. According to Dr. Shilpa, here are the main causes of blepharitis:
1. Clogged oil glands
The oil glands on your eyelids can become infected and blocked. This clogging can lead to an infection under your eyelids, becoming a major cause for blepharitis. If you leave this eye infection untreated, then it can result in major permanent eye damage and vision loss. Scars under the eyelids can scratch the eye’s delicate surface. It can also cause ulcers on your cornea, which is the clear, protective outer layer of your eye.
2. Dry eyes
Another cause of eyelid swelling is dry eyes. The problem of dry eyes majorly occurs when your tear glands are not able to produce enough tears to bring moisture to your eyes. This dry eyes condition can be discomforting and sometimes painful too. The factors behind this condition can be both medical and environmental, such as bad quality tears and reduced tear production. Dry eye condition indicates a lot of dryness in eyes and can be prevented with natural remedies at home.
The most common cause of eyelid swelling is allergies, which can develop from direct contact or from an allergic reaction from certain foods. If only one of your eyelids is swollen, then a common cause is chalazion, which is a blocked gland in the eyelid.
Another cause for blepharitis is dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff mostly develop on the oil producing areas of the skin. Both these disorders make your skin and scalp go itchy and flaky. Dandruff occurs on the scalp, but seborrheic dermatitis can appear on other parts including the face, upper chest, armpits, and groin. Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis can be caused due to various factors, especially a nutrient deficient diet.
5. Bacterial infection
Bacterial infection can also lead to blepharitis and might look like a swollen and reddish bump on the edge or outer part of an eyelid, also called styes. It is basically the inflammation of a meibomian gland. When these oil-producing glands get blocked, it mostly results in eyelid inflammation. In some cases, a stye can even cause the whole eyelid to become swollen.
Also read: Red Eyes? Here Are The 5 Reasons Behind It
Blepharitis diagnosis and treatment
An eye doctor can diagnose eyelid inflammation easily. There is a need of a close physical eye examination to make a full diagnosis. This eye examination is done to see if there is any type of bacteria, fungi or virus in the eyes, causing an infection and inflammation. If there are symptoms of an eye infection, your doctor will swab your eye and take a sample of the fluid discharge from your eyes.
Washing your eyes and applying a warm compression over your eyes can help in reducing many symptoms such as inflammation and red or watery eyes. Your doctor will suggest appropriate treatment on the basis of the severity and cause of the inflammation. In such cases, antibiotics can be applied to the eyelid, as it brings out effective results in coping up with the symptoms, eliminating the infection completely. These are easily available in various forms, such as eyedrops, creams and ointments. Mostly, home remedies are effective in treating the symptoms of blepharitis, such as:
1. Warm compression
Warm compression is an extremely useful home remedy to deal with eye infections. It softens the crusty part, improving the condition quickly. You have to apply a warm compress on your closed eye for a few minutes to loosen the crusty buildup on and around your eyelids.
2. Eyelid exercises
You can massage your eyelids firmly but gently massage with the help of a clean washcloth or a clean finger. You can give a clockwise rotation to your eyelids gently with your fingers. Doing this atleast twice a day can soften the buildup, further improving the condition of your eye. Therefore, basic euelid exercises can also become a help in such cases. You can ask your eye doctor about the same.
So, these were the types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment of blepharitis or eyelid inflammation by Dr. Shilpa Goel. Maintaining eye hygiene is a part of preventing and treating such infections. And, if you experience any of the above listed symptoms, then visit an ophthalmologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. You should rinse your eyelids with warm water and gently pat them dry with a clean and dry towel to keep your eye infection free.
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