What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Blepharitis?
Blepharitis usually causes symptoms of eye itching, irritation, burning, increased tearing, and the sensation that something "may be in the eye." The complaint that "my eyes feel dry" is common.
With contact-lens wearers, it is often mentioned that "I can't wear my lenses for as long as I did before" and "the lenses irritate me more."
The lids may be red and may have ulcerative, non-healing areas that may actually bleed. Vision is usually normal, although a poor tear film often blurs vision, causing varying amounts of fluctuating vision during the day. Redness, warmth, and swelling in advanced cases may also be noted.
In allergic blepharitis, the lids may appear dark like raccoon eyes. This is called an "allergic shiner" and is very common in children.
Flaking and eyelid matting or "gluing" of the lashes are common. In the infectious form, there may be yellow- or green-colored fluid/discharge, which causes sticking of the lids, especially in the morning. With the most common seborrheic form, dry, flaky patches of skin may develop. Dandruff is common on the scalp and the eyebrows.
Secondarily, the cornea may show tiny erosions or peripheral corneal ulcers. Blepharitis may localize in the skin of the eyelids causing a sty or a chalazion, which, if it does not respond to medical treatment, may require incision (lancing) for drainage. Increased tear production is common and may be quite bothersome.
Chronic blepharitis may result in damage of varying severity, including redness, tearing, and matting of the lids. This may have a marked negative effect upon vision and therefore upon the eyeglass prescription. An inflammatory nodule of the lids (a sty) may develop. This is treated with antibiotic drops, hot compresses, or incision.
Use of contact lenses or dry eyes may also cause noninfectious blepharitis. Since there are many germs on the eyelids, antibiotic drops may be used in these conditions, as well.