Blepharitis is a condition where the edges of the eyelids become inflamed (red and swollen).

It is a common condition, accounting for an estimated 1 in 20 eye problems reported to GPs. Blepharitis can develop at any age, but is more common in people over 40.

Symptoms of blepharitis

Most people with blepharitis experience repeated episodes, separated by long periods with no symptoms.

The symptoms of blepharitis, vary depending on the specific cause, but can include:

  • itchy, sore and red eyelids
  • eyelids that stick together and are difficult to open when you wake up
  • eyelashes that become crusty or greasy
  • a burning, gritty sensation in your eyes
  • an increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • the edges of your eyelids (eyelid margins) becoming swollen
  • finding contact lenses uncomfortable to wear
  • abnormal eyelash growth or loss of eyelashes, in severe cases

In most cases both eyes are affected, and the symptoms tend to be worse in the morning.

Causes of blepharitis

Blepharitis occurs when the edge of your eyelids become inflamed (they turn red and begin swelling). It is usually caused by an infection or a skin condition.

There are two main types of blepharitis:

  • anterior blepharitis – inflammation affects the skin around the base of your eyelashes
  • posterior blepharitis – inflammation affects your Meibomian glands (found on the inside edge of your eyelids)

Some people experience both types of blepharitis, as the causes are often linked.

Treatment and other conditions

Depending on the suspected cause of your condition and any other symptoms you have, you may also need additional treatment.

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