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Watery, red, itchy eyes? It may be a condition that can be managed

Judith Whitehead

By Judith Whitehead - Contributing Writer

What is Blepharitis?

Unless you have been for an eye examination with an eye care professional such as an optometrist, doctor of optometry or an Ophthalmologist, MD, you may not know what the term Blepharitis or Meibomian gland dysfunction means.

Blepharitis is a common problem that a large part of our population suffers from. Patients can get on top of their annoying symptoms with some simple treatment options and suggestions.

If your eyes itch, appear red rimmed and watery, and feel dry, you may have Blepharitis. Eyelids may become flaky and red with accompanied tearing and you may have a foreign body sensation in the eye .

These symptoms may be mistaken for an eye infection and if not diagnosed properly, antibiotics may be prescribed which are unnecessary and may mask the problem. It is only under a slit lamp or microscope that an eye doctor uses that a proper diagnosis can be made.

Blepharitis is not contagious, just bothersome, and can get out of hand if not treated properly. It is a chronic condition and can be controlled with diligent treatment.

The eyelid is lined with many meibomian glands that sucrete oil. If the oil that is secreted from the eyelid glands begin to build up in abundance, a stye or chalazion may form which is a blockage in the gland. To avoid such symptoms, one must use good eyelid hygiene and cleanse the lids daily with a warm/hot washcloth.

At times, a prescription or lid scrub may be used or just tea tree shampoo lightly lathered to cleanse the lid and lashes well. It is during this condition that eyelashes may fall out as well. The scrubs and shampoo are not meant to get into the eye, just gently washed over a closed eyelid.

A wiping motion is best when made in the direction of the lash growth to get rid of any debree or dry skin. It is also an option to take Omega-3 or fatty acids such as flax seed oil to promote a healthy eyelid.

If the eyelid is inflamed, it is best not to wear contact lenses or use makeup as that may complicate the symptoms and make the eyes feel worse.

Once the condition is under control – eyelid hygiene must not be stopped. Lid cleansing is not a cure, just a treatment to get on top of symptoms that can return. Make lid cleansing and good hygiene a part of your daily routine and your condition will stay at bay.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.


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