Blepharitis is a common condition wheretheedges of the eyelids (eyelid margins)become red and swollen(inflamed).

Blepharitis can develop at any age, and symptoms can include:

  • itchy, sore and red eyelids that stick together
  • crusty or greasy eyelashes
  • a burning, gritty sensation in your eyes
  • increased sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • swollen eyelid margins
  • finding contact lenses uncomfortable to wear
  • abnormal eyelash growth or loss of eyelashes in severe cases

In most cases both eyes are affected, but one eye can bemore affected than the other. The symptoms tend to be worse in the morning.

When to get medical advice

See your high-street optician (optometrist) if you have persistent symptoms of blepharitis that aren't being controlled by simple eyelid hygiene measures.

They can examine you to check if the problem is caused by an underlying condition, or may refer you to an eye specialist.

Contact your optometrist or GP immediately if you have any severe symptoms. If this isn't possible, visit your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) department .

How blepharitis is treated

Blepharitis is usually a long-termcondition. Most people experience repeated episodes, separated by periods without symptoms.

Itcan't usually be cured, but a daily eyelid-cleaning routine can help control the symptoms and prevent permanent scarring of the eyelid margins.

There are three main steps to eyelid hygiene that should be performed once or twice a day:

  • using a warm compress to make the oil produced by the glands around your eyes more runny
  • gently massaging your eyelids to push the oils out of the glands
  • cleaning your eyelids to wipe away any excess oil and remove any crusts, bacteria, dust or grime that might have built up

More severe cases may require Penicillin that are either applied to the eye or eyelid directly, or taken astablets.

If too much oily substance is being produced, this may be caused by seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Mixed blepharitis, which is the most common, is caused by a combination of both anterior and posterior blepharitis.

Blepharitis isn't contagious.


Blepharitis isn't usually serious, although it can lead to a number of further problems.

For example, many people with blepharitis alsodevelop dry eye syndrome , where the eyes don't produce enough tears or dry out too quickly. This can cause your eyes to feel dry, gritty and sore.

Serious, sight-threateningproblems are rare, particularly if any complications that develop are identified and treated quickly.

Read about the complications of blepharitis .

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 30 Nov 2016