OUR MOST FREQUENT DIAGNOSIS: BLEPHARITIS By Dr. Lisa Bennett, Ophthalmologist at Madison Medical Eye Care with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin
What is the most frequent diagnosis in our eye clinic? You might guess cataracts or glaucoma but it is actually an intermittent eyelid infection known as blepharitis. The symptoms include redness or swelling of the eyelids, flakes on the lashes, misdirected or loss of lashes, burning, itching, a foreign body sensation, irritation and/or tearing. There are about 50 small sweat glands at the edge of your eyelids that can harbor bacteria resulting in this recurrent problem.
What causes blepharitis? The most common causes are bacteria (staphylococcal blepharitis) and skin conditions like dandruff or acne rosacea (seborrheic blepharitis). Rarely, allergies, a mite infestation or viruses can be the culprit.
Blepharitis is diagnosed by ophthalmologists or optometrists through a thorough history of symptoms, evaluation of the eyelids and eyes along with a careful evaluation of the tear film. Untreated blepharitis can cause dry eyes to worsen, permanent loss of lashes, notches in the eyelid, styes and, in worst case scenarios, even scarring of the cornea.
Treatment depends on the type of blepharitis. Eyelid hygiene typically helps for most types of blepharitis: this includes warm compresses over the eyelids daily, gentle cleansing of the eyelashes with a non-irritating soap (baby shampoo) and the use of artificial tears. Some types of blepharitis require prescription eye drops, ointments or oral antibiotics.
While this condition is common and annoying, understanding the cause and knowing how to manage the symptoms is key. We can help you determine the appropriate treatment for your particular situation at your next appointment or sooner should your symptoms become more severe.
Dr. Lisa Bennett practices with Dr. Martha Jay and Dr. James Ivanoski at Madison Medical Eye Care with offices in Mequon & Saukville, Wisconsin. She is a comprehensive Ophthalmologist (Eye Physician & Surgeon) specializing in medical and surgical eye care such as small incision cataract surgery and blade-free LASIK.
For more eye care information, call 262-241-1919 or visit www.MadisonMedicalEyeCare.com.