Blepharitis

  • Medical Author:
    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS

    Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Quick GuideCommon Eye Problems and Infections

Common Eye Problems and Infections

How do health-care professionals diagnose blepharitis?

Blepharitis can be usually diagnosed by a physician based on the history as given by the patient and the physical examination. Taking a history includes a thorough discussion of symptoms that the patient is experiencing and a review of any general health problems that may be contributing to the eye problem.

The physical examination concentrates on an evaluation of the eyelids, lid margins, base of the lashes, oil gland openings, tear quantity and quality, and the front surface of the eyeball using a slit lamp, which allows a magnified view with sufficient illumination. The type of blepharitis is determined based on this examination and appropriate treatment recommended. Occasionally, cultures are taken by swabbing the discharge and sending this to the laboratory. In some cases, an allergy evaluation may be required.

What are complications of blepharitis?

It is unusual for blepharitis to cause serious problems. However, blepharitis can lead to a number of other conditions.

  • Sty: A sty (sometimes spelled stye) or hordeolum is a bacterial infection in one of the oil glands whose opening is clogged. The result is a painful lump on the edge or inside of the eyelid.
  • Chalazion: A chalazion or conjunctival granuloma occurs when blockage in one or more of the oil glands causes it/them to become enlarged and scarred.
  • Chronic pinkeye: Blepharitis can lead to recurrent bouts of pinkeye (conjunctivitis).
  • Ulceration of the cornea: Constant irritation from inflamed eyelids or misdirected eyelashes may cause a sore (ulcer) to develop on the cornea.

Blepharitis does not affect vision generally, although disturbances of the tear film may intermittently blur vision, causing varying amounts of fluctuating vision during the day.

Call the ophthalmologist if these symptoms develop, which are not due to blepharitis:

  • Significant changes in vision
  • A sore on the eyelid that persists or increases in size, especially if it is red, bleeding, and not healing
  • Significant pain in either or both eyes
  • Symptoms that become worse or last for longer than two weeks
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/5/2016

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