How do eyelids work?

The eyelids protect the eye and also spread tears over the eye’s surface to give clear vision. Within the eyelids small glands called meibomian glands release a waxy substance to reduce tear evaporation.

What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is a common condition of the eyelids. It particularly occurs in older people and can be very irritating. There are two main types; Anterior blepharitis, effecting the base of the eye lashes with a dandruff like condition and posterior blepharitis (meibomian gland disease – MGD) where glands become blocked, inflamed and develop a low grade infection.

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

Typical symptoms are redness and soreness around the eyelids, and grittiness in the eyes. There may be crusting around the eye lashes and some patients will get a morning discharge. Occasionally the eyes become so sore that a reflex watering may occur.
In some patients the glands become blocked and a lid swelling or a chalazion can occur.

How do I use a Blepharitis pack?

Most treatment involves regular lid hygiene – and drops to supplement the tears. The lid hygiene needs to be carried out 3-4 times per week to prevent the symptoms returning.

  1. Heating the eyelids: this is needed to melt the waxy debris in the eyelids. It takes around 10-15 minutes to do and can be done with a facial sauna, or by using an Eye Bag, or warm water on cotton wool buds.
  2. Massage the Lids: Wash your hands. Then take a cotton bud with a pointed end –  press firmly on the base of the eye lashes. This unblocks the meibomian glands and to encourages them to release their fatty or infected deposits.
  3. Cleaning the Lids: Take a small plastic cup and fill with warm water, then add few drops of a gentle shampoo such as tea tree oil. Dip the wide end of the cotton bud into the shampoo and wipe firmly along the base of the lashes about 10 times to clean the eyelid. Then rinse and dry eyes. Special eye wipes for removing eye make up are also suitable to use to clean eyes
  4. Ointments for the lids: For severe blepharitis use Chloramphenicol ointment ( available from a chemist)and apply a dose to a clean forefinger, close the eye and rub the ointment into the base of the lashes
  5. Omega -3 oils. There is evidence that taking omega -3 oils daily can help symptoms.
  6. When the eyes feel very sore or irritable drops such as hydrocare can also help.

In severe cases eyelid massage and cleansing does not control the symptoms and further treatment may be necessary. Ask your optician to recommend drops and antibiotics that your GP can prescribe.