If you have been suffering from repeated breakouts of ocular irritation or dry eye symptoms, you should make an appointment to visit a local eye care physician. While you may be tempted to go to the pharmacy for eye drops to add moisture to your eyes, they may not actually solve the problem. Eye drops only offer temporary relief and completely ignore the actual causes of your irritation.
Eye irritation is usually due to bacterial activity, resulting in red, swollen or itchy eyes. Your doctor may closely examine your eyes and eyelids to evaluate whether you have blepharitis – also known as inflammation of the eyelid – and prescribe what type of treatment is most appropriate. If you have blepharitis; you are not alone. There are 80 million patients in the U.S. suffering from blepharitis annually.1
Is Blepharitis Caused By Demodex?
The first question to ask your doctor when diagnosed with blepharitis is whether your blepharitis is caused by Demodex. These tiny mites live in hair follicles, particularly in the eyelashes. You should ask because sometimes, your doctor might feel that going into detail may not be necessary; or that the details may be hard to discuss, as learning you have Demodex mites in your eyelashes can sometimes be unsettling. But, it is important to check because 88 percent of blepharitis diagnoses are due to Demodex mites².
Are Home Remedies Enough to Alleviate My Symptoms?
There are many treatment options available, and it can be confusing to know which one to use. Some examples are:
- Omega-3 fatty acids which can help ease the symptoms of blepharitis. These fatty acids help keep healthy functioning of the meibomian glands, which is essential for proper lubrication of the eyes and eyelid comfort.
- Warm compresses, which are an effective home remedy for blepharitis. It will help loosen scales and debris around your eyelashes. They even help dilute oil secretions from the oil glands, thus reducing the risk of an enlarged lump.
- Tea Tree Oil lid wipes, like Cliradex, can be used twice a day. Use the wipes on the eyelashes, forehead, eyebrows and cheeks, because the mites live in these places as well.
Check with your doctor to see if these are enough to take care of your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend something more
Are There Steps You Can Take To Prevent Recurrence?
Taking care of a single outbreak is not enough. Eye irritation is a recurring problem that you can solve through preventive care. Here is a list of things you can do to help prevent future outbreaks:
- Maintain Eyelid Hygiene – Good hygiene is important for the treatment of eyelid inflammation. Cleanse daily your eyelids with lukewarm water. This will prevent crust from forming on your lashes. Do it before bedtime; it will help remove the bacteria that can cause blepharitis and meibomian gland problems that lead to dry eye symptoms. Similar to the dental model of preventive care, we believe ocular hygiene should be as routine as brushing your teeth.
- Blink more – With the multiplication of digital screens in our daily life, especially with small screens, we tend to blink less frequently than normal. It can cause or worsen dry eye symptoms. Make the effort to blink more.
- Check your medications – There are numerous medications that can either increase the dryness of your eyes or cause your eyes to dry out altogether. Medications – like antihistamines, antidepressants, sleeping pills, birth control pills, diuretics or opiates – have been reported to cause dry eyes³.
- Bhandari V, Reddy JK,Blepharitis: always remember Demodex., Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. 2014 OctDec;21(4):317-20.
- Lemp MA, Baudouin C, Baum J, et al. The definition and classification of dry eye disease: report of the Definition and Classification Subcommittee of the International Dry Eye Workshop (2007). Ocul Surf. 2007 Apr;5(2):75-92.