How Is Blepharitis Diagnosed?
Blepharitis is normally diagnosed in primary care by GPs on the clinical history alone. When a slit lamp microscope is available, for example at the optometrist’s or ophthalmologist’s clinic, the lid margin can be examined closely. Simple visualisation of the lid margin along with the history is how the diagnosis is normally made.
How Is Blepharitis Treated?
Unfortunately, there is not a definitive cure for blepharitis. There are many different ways clinicians have managed patients with blepharitis over the years. The fact there is not a definitive treatment is an indicator that no single treatment works significantly better than all others.
Lid Margin Cleaning
Both types of blepharitis can be helped with what is commonly referred to as ‘lid margin hygiene’. Put simply, this means regular cleaning of the lid margins. The use of the following regimen works for most people. The use of additives to water such as baby shampoo or sodium bicarbonate may actually increase the amount of irritation, and so at least initially, this is not recommended. Use clean hot tap water ( boiled sterile water is not necessary).
- Take a flannel and soak in hot tap water (not too hot)
- Place the flannel onto the closed eye and apply gentle pressure for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the flannel cools
- Then, take the flannel, and again wet with hot clean tap water.
- Use this flannel to scrub along the lid margin (top and bottom eyelids), being sure to scrub the area at the roots of the lashes. Do this for a good 30 seconds to 1 minute. Don’t use cotton wool, as it is too smooth and doesn’t remove debris as well as a simple clean cloth.
- Repeat on the other side.
Carry out this cleaning regimen twice a day for at least a month. Most people will experience a reduction in symptoms. If not, seek expert help from your optometrist who will be able to make further recommendations, or refer you to an ophthalmologist if required. Other management measures are briefly mentioned below.
Minimising chemical irritants that include certain eye drop preservatives and makeup can help reduce blepharitis symptoms.
There is some evidence to suggest omega 3 oils such as those in Flax-seed can improve the quality of meibomian gland secretions.
Occasionally, if there is marked bacterial anterior inflammation, or if there is an associated skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis, or even Rosacea, your doctor may prescribe antibiotic eye ointment, or indeed oral tablets.