Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid. It is a very common eye disease that affects the edge of the eyelids and eyelash hair follicles.
There are 3 main types of blepharitis:
Factors that may increase your chance of blepharitis include:
Symptoms depend on the cause of the blepharitis. They are usually worse in the morning and involve both eyes.
Blepharitis may cause:
Your eye doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. An examination of your eyes will be done. Initially you may not have any special tests. If the inflammation looks unusual for blepharitis or fails to respond to treatment, the doctor may do a culture by passing a swab across the edge of the lid. Your doctor may also decide to perform a biopsy by removing a tiny piece of the eyelid margin for microscopic examination to be certain that there is no sign of cancer. Rarely, some cancers can mimic chronic blepharitis.
Blepharitis is a chronic condition that often requires long-term management. Treatment depends on the cause of the condition. Your doctor may advise you not to wear contact lenses until the blepharitis has resolved.
In mild cases, your doctor may advise you to place a warm washcloth on your eye to help loosen crust. You may also have to wash your eyelids with an eyelid cleanser or diluted baby shampoo.
Eye Smart—American Ophthalmology
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Blepharitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 3, 2013. Accessed June 30, 2013.
Carter SR. Eyelid disorders: Diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician 1998;57(11):2695-2702.
Cecil RL, Goldman L, Bennett J. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000.
Dambro MR. Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 2001 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2001.
Goroll AH, Mulley AG. Goroll: Primary Care Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000.
Mandell GL, Douglas RG, Bennett JE, Dolin R. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA:Churchill Livingstone, Inc.; 2000.
Last reviewed October 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.