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What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a chronic condition involving inflammation of the eyelids. It can be caused by malfunctioning oil glands near the base of the eyelashes, allergies, rosacea (a skin condition characterized by redness), or eye infections. Symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • red and watery eyes,
  • itchy eyelids, and
  • dandruff-like scales on the eyelashes and eyelids.

It is not contagious and does not generally permanently affect vision.

How is blepharitis treated?

A systematic and long-term commitment to regiment of eyelid margin hygiene is the basis of treatment of blepharitis. This includes:

  • Applying warm compresses to the eyelids two to four times a day, and cleaning the eyelids with a cotton applicator soaked in a mixture of warm water and/or baby shampoo.
  • Oral flaxseed (1000-2000 mg/day) oil with fish oil supplements to alleviate symptoms. 
  • Refractory cases of blepharitis often respond to oral antibiotic use. 
  • One- or two-month courses of tetracycline class oral agents to reduce symptoms in patients with more severe disease. Tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline are believed to not only  reduce bacterial colonization but alter metabolism and reduce glandular dysfunction of the oil producing glands of the eyelid. 

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