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Mary P. Coday, MD
Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School
January 13, 2003

What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids. It is a very common condition that can be associated with a low grade bacterial infection (staphylococcal blepharitis) or a generalized skin condition (seborrheic blepharitis).

Who gets blepharitis?
Blepharitis is seen most commonly in adults. Factors believed to contribute to blepharitis include abnormalities in oil gland function and an alteration in bacterial colonies that normally live on the skin. Blepharitis is not contagious and cannot be passed FROM one person to another.

How do I know if I have blepharitis?
Red eyelid margins and persistent ocular irritation can be signs of blepharitis. However, your ophthalmologist can help definitively diagnose this condition by careful examination of the eyelid margins. In some instances, dry eye symptoms and underlying skin conditions (e.g. rosacea) can be associated with blepharitis.

How is blepharitis treated?
The inflammation around the eyelids can be improved by increased lid hygiene. Gently scrubbing the eyelid margins with baby shampoo diluted with water can decrease the amount of flaking skin and oil in the area. A cotton tipped applicator or a washcloth wrapped around the index finger can be used to apply the shampoo. Warm compresses applied to the lids for several minutes a day can also be helpful. In some SELECT cases, your ophthalmologist may also choose to prescribe an antibiotic ointment or drop. Blepharitis is a chronic condition that often requires long-term treatment in ORDER to prevent exacerbations.

How do I get more information?
Please call your local eye care professional for more information about blepharitis. To arrange for an appointment in the New England area with an ophthalmologist call the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, General Eye and Cataract Consultation Service at (617) 573-3202.
Figure 1
Photograph of blepharitis. Notice the red rimmed lid margins which represent inflammation. Photograph courtesy of Claes Dohlman, MD

The information and recommendations appearing on these pages are informational only and is not intended to be a basis for diagnosis, treatment or any other clinical application. For specific information concerning your personal medical condition, the DJO suggests that you consult your physician.