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:
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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.
Blepharitis can be treated with:
To help reduce your chance of blepharitis:
Eye Smart—American Ophthalmology
National Eye Institute (NEI)
Canadian Ophthalmological Society
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind
Blepharitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
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Updated May 3, 2013. Accessed June 30, 2013.
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Last reviewed October 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2013