As an expert in dry eyes John A. Moran Eye Center optician Deepika Bagga, OD, has decades of experience caring for patients blepharitis.
Blepharitis is an annoying, chronic inflammation of the edges of the eyelids that can cause red eyes, swollen eyelids, eye pain, itching, irritation, and blurred vision. It can also cause crusted, scaly flakes on the lashes. Although blepharitis can also cause dry eyeSymptoms, it is a separate disease that requires careful diagnosis and treatment.
Bagga explains the latest approaches to treating blepharitis, including prescription medications, home remedies, and even the Mediterranean diet.
What causes blepharitis?
We all have bacteria, viruses, allergens and parasites in the natural flora of our eyes. Some people have more organisms at the base of their eyelid rims and lashes, and this is where these scale-like flakes can form. Blepharitis can also result from excess oil produced by glands in the eyelids.
Blepharitis is not associated with any specific patient demographics, but evidence suggests that it is associated with hormonal changes in women, diabetes, oral contraceptives or antidepressants, and several autoimmune disorders, including ocular rosacea or Sjogren’s Syndrome. Other causes include poor eyelid hygiene, bacterial infections, or allergic reactions.
Blepharitis can start at any age and gets worse with age, so it’s important to recognize and treat it.
How is blepharitis treated?
We can usually control early-stage blepharitis with artificial tears and medications that restore balance to the tear layer of the eye. These drugs are remarkably effective and have improved significantly over the past decade.
I tell my patients not to underestimate the relief they get when they regularly apply warm compresses to their eyes at home. But there is no one-time solution, and it is important to continue treatment for life.
Can diet help?
I’m excited about the Mediterranean cuisine, a diet that emphasizes a variety of plant foods, fish, nuts and whole grains and keeps saturated fats to a minimum. This type of diet lowers inflammation throughout the body and has been shown to minimize the risk of developing it age-related macular degeneration and other medical conditions.
A healthy diet can complement any medication. I view food as medicine and recommend my patients eat around 9-12 fruits and vegetables daily and enjoy the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids from fish and vitamins A and B from eggs. I also recommend limiting your daily intake of red meat. Vegetarians may want to include supernutrients like chia and flaxseed in their diet.
Who Can Treat Blepharitis?
If patients experience excessive tearing, itching, or burning of the eyes, they should see an optometrist and ophthalmologist for a comprehensive eye exam to assess for blepharitis and determine the best course of treatment.