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Blepharitis patient informationBlepharitis Patient Information
Blepharitis ("bleph" = eyelid and "ritis" = inflammation) is a recurring mild irritation of the eyelid. Although
blepharitis is a very common problem, it will not affect your vision, and you will normally be able to manage
it with some simple treatment measures.
Blepharitis affects all age groups, but can become more troublesome in older people, due to the changing
nature of their eyelids.
The symptoms of blepharitis are usually a sharp or "gritty" pain in the eye, similar to what it feels like to have
something in your eye. You may also notice a mild redness to the white of the eye and the eyelid margins,
and you may experience crusting of the lid and a sticky discharge of your eye in the mornings.
These symptoms can re-occur over many months and often do not completely go away, even with treatment.
Even though blepharitis is mild, it can still be very annoying. In general, if you have mildly red and irritated
eyes, you should not need referral to the eye clinic or a specialist. Using a combination of the treatments
described below, you should be able to reduce the symptoms to a level you can manage.
Treatment for blepharitis involves a combination of eyelid hygiene, lubricant eye-drops, and in some cases, a
course of antibiotics for between one to three months.
Simple eyelid hygiene involves using a diluted non-irritant shampoo, such as ‘baby shampoo’ to clean your
eyelids & eyelashes , once or twice a day. After mixing a small amount of shampoo with warm water a cloth
or tissue is used to gently scrub across the area of the eyelashes, or can be done while you are in the shower.
This helps stop secretions from building up and keeps the glands more open, which will improve the
You can also buy commercial eyelid cleaners from most pharmacies, which may work even better for you.
If you experience persistent irritation, you may find that a lubricant eye-drop such as 'Refresh' or similar is
very effective. You can use these eye-drops whenever your eye feels irritated. You will probably find that on
some days you barely need to use the eye-drops, but on other days you will use the drops 4 or 5 times.
If your eye-drops contain the preservative benzalkonium chloride (found in many drops not requiring a
prescription), then do not use them more that 4 times a day, as it can cause irritation.
Don't use decongestant drops (such as 'Prefrin' or 'Naphcon') regularly, as they will cause redness and
You can buy lubricant drops directly from the chemist.
It is often very effective to have a course of an antibiotic, doxycycline, for between 1 to 3 months, at 100 mg
once a day. You must use it for more than a month, as it takes this long to change the function of the eyelid
Once the eyelid glands stop secreting irritant oils, the irritation settles, and this can improve your symptoms
for many months. Your general practitioner can prescribe doxycycline and give advice.
Note that young children or pregnant women should not take doxycycline.
If you develop any decrease in vision, severe pain, or sensitivity to light, it's very important you see your
general practitioner or optometrist urgently, so they can treat any new, unrelated problems.
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