Causes and treatment

Blepharitis is a common condition that causes inflammation of the eyelids. It can affect people of all ages.

What causes Blepharitis?

The reason why some people suffer from blepharitis and others do not is unknown; however it is thought to be caused by excess amounts of the bacteria that live normally on our skin, producing irritating chemicals (exotoxins). Accumulation of these bacteria and exotoxins around the lashes causes inflammation resulting in crusting and scales developing around the eyelashes. Due to the close proximity with the eye this in turn irritates the eyes. Blepharitis is often associated with a skin condition known as rosacea.

Below is some further information about blepharitis. If you would like to talk with us about our treatments or have any questions, please call us on 01483 576 576 or email We are based in Guildford, Surrey and have a team of highly qualified eye surgeons.

There are two specific types of blepharitis.

  • Anterior Blepharitis affects the external part of your lids (between the lashes). The most common cause is bacteria (staphylococcus).
  • Posterior Blepharitis affects our inner eyelid (the part in contact with your eye), and is caused by problems with the oil glands in this part of your eyelid.

It usually affects both eyes and although is not a serious, it can be an uncomfortable, persistent and irritating condition.

How do I know if I have Blepharitis?

The inflammation results in crusting and scales to develop around the eyelashes. This can cause the eyes to feel gritty, sore, uncomfortable or watery. Some patients describe the symptom of 'being aware of their eyes'. In the mornings the eyelids can stick together, sometimes with a yellow discharge.

Is it serious?

No, it's not serious, and only very rarely is your eyesight affected. However, blepharitis is a persistent problem and can recur at any time.

It can also occasionally cause the development of styes (hordeolum) or chalazia which are cysts in the eye lid.

Can it be treated?

Yes, though treatment can only control the problem and cannot eradicate it altogether.

Good eye care is essential to prevent the condition from recurring, even when the eyes are comfortable, as blepharitis is a chronic problem, and can recur at any time.

What is the treatment?

The mainstay of treatment is lid hygiene, using cotton buds and solution. (How to make blepharitis treatment solution)

Is that all I have to do?

As blepharitis can affect the tears, lubricants can be used to soothe the eyes and relieve irritation. These can be used 3-4 times a day.

There are a variety of artificial tear preparations to choose from, if the drops are required more than 4 times a day then preservative free drops are recommended.

In rare cases, antibiotic tablets may be needed if the blepharitis is particularly difficult to treat.

Treating related conditions such as seborrhoeic dermatitis, which causes bad dandruff and other kind conditions of the face, such as eczema and acne rosacea may help to ease blepharitis.

How do I prevent further episodes?

Maintaining good hygiene is the most important thing you can do to prevent blepharitis. Keep eyelids, scalp, face and hands clean and obtain treatment for any skin disorders, such as rosacea.

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