What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the eyelids caused by an overgrowth of normal bacteria living along the lid and the base of the eyelashes. Anyone can get blepharitis at any age, but the prevalence increases with age, since, as we get older; we make fewer natural antibodies in our tears.
This overgrowth of bacteria produces a biofilm that traps scurf and debris along the eyelashes and harbours bacterial exotoxins (toxic bacterial waste products) along the lid margin. These exotoxins penetrate the eyelid tissue causing low-grade inflammation, which adversely affects the tear glands, turning down tear production. Fewer tears containing fewer antibodies allow even more bacteria accumulate and a vicious cycle is established, leading to chronic irritation and dry eye.
Since the eyelids are difficult to clean, this overgrowth of bacteria, biofilm, scurf and debris can accumulate over many years, and the exotoxin-induced inflammation can cause significant damage to the eyelid and tear glands.
Now, thanks to BlephEx™, we can precisely and safely, clean and exfoliate your eyelids and lashes, which will almost immediately improve your symptoms. More importantly, by completely removing the exotoxin-laden biofilm along the lid margin, you can avoid the long-term inflammatory damage to your tear glands, preventing chronic dry eye syndrome.
What are the long-term effects of untreated blepheritis?
Your optometrist is best placed to diagnose blepharitis. Make sure to let your optometrist know of your eye symptoms and inquire about BlephEx, the latest in eye-care technology for lid disease.
There are several conditions which may affect the severity of blepharitis such as dry eye disease, allergies, seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, age, contact lens wear, poor immune status, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogrens disease, and androgen deficiency.
If left untreated, blepharitis can lead directly or indirectly, to a number of common eyelid diseases, such as:
- Dry Eye Syndrome - Due to inflammatory down regulation of tears glands in the eyelids, and swelling with subsequent occlusion of tear excretory ducts.
- Chalazions(styes) - Occlusion of Meibomian excretory ducts causing painful swelling of Meibomian gland.
And less common conditions, such as:
- Cicatricial Ectropion - outward turning of the lower eyelid due to chronic lid inflammation and scarring down of the structural support tissue of the eyelid. Can result in severe dry eye syndrome, corneal scarring and vision loss.
- Involutional Ectropian - outward turning of the lower eyelid due to laxity and sagging of the lower lid. Caused by chronic inflammation and weakening of the eyelid support tissue.
- Cicatricial Entropion - inward turning of the lower eyelid due to chronic lid inflammation and scarring down of the structural support tissue of the eyelid. Can result in chronic irritation of the eye, corneal ulceration and scarring, and vision loss.
- Involutional Entropian - inward eversion of the lower eyelid due to laxity and sagging of the lower lid caused by chronic inflammation and weakening of the eyelid support tissue.
- Trichiasis - an inward turning of the lashes so that they abrade the corneal surface causing irritation, tearing, poor vision and occasionally corneal scarring.