Our eyelids protect our eyes, help produce part of our tear film, and play an important role in the overall health of our eyes. When they are not properly cared for, the eyelids and eyelashes can end up causing problems, from dry eye disease, to swollen flaky lids, to painful bumps. Continue reading to learn more about lid hygiene and how to prevent any eyelid-related problems.
Blepharitis and Swollen Eyelids
Eyelids become inflamed in a common condition known as blepharitis. In blepharitis, the eyelids can become swollen, red, flaky or crusty, and can cause dryness, burning, or itchiness. In most cases of blepharitis, the inflammation occurs at the base of the eyelids where the lashes begin to grow. There are many causes for blepharitis, including infections, dermatitis, rosacea, bacterial overgrowth, or even mites. However, the most common cause is Meibomian gland dysfunction. Poor eyelid hygiene can cause clogged eyelid glands, which worsens conditions such as blepharitis and dry eye disease.
Effectively treating blepharitis typically requires long-term chronic care. Improving the overall health of the eyelids through daily steps such as warm compresses and lid scrubs is absolutely necessary in preventing inflammation and the associated uncomfortable symptoms. If your case of blepharitis is associated with moderate to severe Meibomian gland dysfunction, you may want to consider the LipiFlow treatment option to further improve the health of the eyelids. Traditional treatment approaches such as artificial tears can be used in conjunction with warm compresses and lid scrubs in order to treat the burning and gritty feeling that often accompanies blepharitis. Some cases of blepharitis may even require a short dose of oral antibiotics to clear out any bacteria that may be contributing to the inflammation. By talking to your optometrist, you can formulate an appropriate treatment plan to reduce your blepharitis and improve your overall eye health.
Lumps and bumps are a common eyelid-related problem. Bumps on the eyelid can arise if Meibomian glands become clogged, infected, or inflamed, and they can occur on the inside or the outside of the eyelid. If a gland is simply blocked and begins to grow in size, it is called a chalazion. A chalazion usually appears as a cyst-like bump along the eyelid margin and is non-tender and painless. Sometimes a chalazion will simply resolve on their own, but in most cases they will improve with and consistent use of warm compresses. If a chalazion becomes a localized infection, it form a hordeolum, more commonly referred to as a stye. A stye is the result of bacteria entering the clogged and swollen Meibomian gland. These bumps are red, painful, and tender to touch. Many styes can be treated with frequent warm compresses and lid scrubs, but in some cases an oral antibiotic may be required. If the bacteria of a hordeolum spreads throughout the eyelid, it can lead to an even more serious condition known as preseptal cellulitis. Preseptal cellulitis results in the entire eyelid being swollen, red, warm, and painful to touch. It can be accompanied by serious symptoms such as a fever or double vision. This condition requires prompt evaluation and treatment with oral antibiotics.