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. Blepharitis can occur at any age, but as we age we make fewer natural antibodies in our tears increasing the likelihood of getting blepharitis.
This overgrowth of bacteria produces a biofilm that traps scurf and debris along the eyelashes and harbors bacterial exotoxins 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.
Blepharitis has two basic forms:
- Anterior blepharitis, affecting the outside front of the eyelid where eyelashes are attached.
- Posterior blepharitis, linked to dysfunction of meibomian glands within the eyelids that secrete oils to help lubricate the eye.
It’s common to have a mixture of both anterior and posterior forms of blepharitis at the same time, but in different degrees of severity.
If you believe you may be suffering from blepharitis, there are treatment options available. A painless, in-office procedure called BlephEx is available at Center For Sight for the treatment of blepharitis. Contact the knowledgeable ophthalmologists of Center For Sight at one of their locations in Watertown, Lowville, Gouverneur, and Ogdensburg to schedule an exam and learn more about your treatment options.