inflammation of the eyelids

Inflammation of the eyelids (Blepharitis)

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Inflammation of the eyelids (Blepharitis)

Your eyelids are the folds of skin that cover your eyes and protect them from debris and injury. Your eyelids also have lashes with short, curved hair follicles on the edge of the lids. These follicles contain oil glands. These oil glands can sometimes become clogged or irritated, which can trigger certain eyelid disorders. One of these disorders is known as eyelid inflammation, or blepharitis.

Blepharitis (blef-uh-RYE-tis) is inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis usually affects both eyes along the edges of the eyelids. Blepharitis commonly occurs when tiny oil glands near the base of the eyelashes become clogged, causing irritation and redness. Several diseases and conditions can cause blepharitis.

Anterior blepharitis involves the lid skin, eyelashes, and associated glands. It may be ulcerative, because of infection by staphylococci, or seborrheic in association with seborrhea of the scalp, brows, and ears.

Posterior blepharitis results from inflammation of the meibomian glands. There may be bacterial infection, particularly with staphylococci, or primary glandular dysfunction, in which there is a strong association with acne rosacea


Symptoms are irritation, burning, and itching. In anterior blepharitis, the eyes are “red-rimmed” and scales or granulations can be seen clinging to the lashes. In posterior blepharitis, the lid margins are hyperemic with telangiectasias, and the meibomian glands and their orifices are inflamed. The lid margin is frequently rolled inward to produce a mild entropion, and the tears may be frothy or abnormally greasy.


Blepharitis is a common cause of recurrent conjunctivitis. Both anterior and, more particularly, posterior blepharitis may be complicated by hordeola or chalazia; abnormal lid or lash positions, producing trichiasis; epithelial keratitis of the lower third of the cornea; marginal corneal infiltrates; and inferior corneal vascularization and thinning


Anterior blepharitis is usually controlled by cleanliness of the lid margins, eyebrows, and scalp. Scales should be removed from the lids daily with a hot wash cloth or a damp cotton applicator and baby shampoo. In acute exacerbations, an antistaphylococcal antibiotic eye ointment, such as bacitracin or erythromycin, is applied daily to the lid margins. Antibiotic sensitivity studies may be helpful in severe cases.

In mild posterior blepharitis, regular meibomian gland expression may be sufficient to control symptoms. Inflammation of the conjunctiva and cornea indicates a need for more active treatment, including long-term lowdose oral antibiotic therapy, usually with tetracycline (250 mg twice daily), doxycycline (100 mg daily), minocycline (50–100 mg daily), or erythromycin (250 mg three times daily), and possibly short-term topical corticosteroids, eg, prednisolone, 0.125% twice daily. Topical therapy with antibiotics, such as ciprofloxacin 0.3% ophthalmic solution twice daily, may be helpful but should be restricted to short courses.

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