Blepharitis and Lid Hygiene
Blepharitis is a chronic inflammation of the eyelids and eyelash follicles that can be caused by:
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Bacterial infection
- Poor eyelid hygiene
- Allergic reaction
Symptoms of Blepharitis
Symptoms associated with blepharitis include:
- Crusting and scaling skin on the eyelid
- Excessive tearing
- Eyelids may become crusty, swollen, itchy and reddened
In more serious cases, the eyelashes may fall out and sores may form on the eyelid. Complications can arise from blepharitis such as the infection spreading to the cornea as well as formation of chalazion or stye.
Treatment of Blepharitis
Treatment of blepharitis is usually limited to maintaining better hygiene around the eyelids. This may include some topical antibiotics and cessation of make-up use, but in many cases gentle cleansing of the area is all that is needed. Warm compresses can also help to lessen the symptoms and soothe the eye's discomfort. Blepharitis can be treated with a combination antibiotic/steroid eye drop and a low dose of oral antibiotics when flare ups occur.
Dry Eye and Punctual Plugs
Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, leading to itching, redness and pain from dry spots on the surface of the eye. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don't produce enough tears, or because of a chemical imbalance in the tears.
Patients with this condition often experience irritating symptoms and which may result in more serious damage to the vision if the condition is left untreated. It is important for patients with this condition to take special care of their eyes in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Your doctor can diagnose dry eye after a thorough evaluation of your eyes and tear production with a Schirmer tear test.
Treatment of Dry Eye
Treatment for dry eye depends on the cause and severity of the condition, as well as the patient's overall health and personal preference. Non-surgical treatments are often effective, and may include the following:
- Blinking on purpose
- Increasing humidity levels at home or work
- Use artificial tears or a moisturizing ointment
- Stop smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
- Avoiding air conditioning or windy conditions outdoors
- Stop the use of allergy and cold medicines
- Adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet as food or supplements
- RESTASIS® Ophthalmic Emulsion
If these methods are unsuccessful, surgical treatments may be an option. Treatments may include:
- Small punctal plugs* may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage
- Punctal cautery, a procedure to permanently close the drainage holes may be another option
- Eyelid surgery is also a solution if an eyelid condition is causing your dry eyes
Treating the underlying cause of dry eyes can also help relieve the symptoms of this condition.
* Punctal plugs, also known as punctum plugs, lacrimal plugs or occluders, are a method of treating dry eyes. Punctal plugs can relieve dry eye symptoms when eye drops or ointments fail. Punctal plugs are placed in the opening of the tear duct, reducing the natural drainage of tears and keeping the eyes moist. Punctal plugs can be a temporary or permanent solution to dry eyes.
Typically, a temporary or dissolvable punctal plug is implanted in the lower drainage channel of the eye, which is responsible for 80 percent of the eye's tears. These temporary plugs will usually last a few days to several months. If there is a successful response to the temporary punctal plug, a more permanent punctal plug is implanted.
Punctal plugs come in a few different shapes and sizes, and are no larger than a grain of rice. The plug may be placed in the lower or upper eyelid or both eyelids. Implantation takes only a few seconds in a physician's office.
A corneal ulcer, also known as ulcerative keratitis or eyesore, is a sore that forms on the surface of the cornea, the clear portion of the eye.
Causes of a Corneal Ulcer
A corneal ulcer is typically the result of a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. Other possible causes may include:
- Corneal abrasion
- Contact lens overwear
- Dry eye disorder
- Conditions that produce inflammation
Corneal ulcers are more common in those who wear contact lenses, particularly when the lenses are not removed at night or cleaned properly.
Symptoms of a Corneal Ulcer
Corneal ulcers can be very painful and may produce such symptoms as:
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
Diagnosis of a Corneal Ulcer
To diagnose a corneal ulcer, an examination with a slit lamp may be performed. A fluorescein stain to make the ulcer more visible may also be used. A sample of the ulcer tissue may be taken and other testing may be conducted to analyze the cause of the ulcer.
Treatment of a Corneal Ulcer
The treatment for a corneal ulcer will vary depending on its underlying cause. Antibiotic eye drops are usually very effective at resolving an infection. Eye drops containing corticosteroids may also be necessary to alleviate swelling. In the most severe cases, a corneal transplant surgery may be needed. Most patients who are treated for a corneal ulcer have no complications or long-term vision problems. If a corneal ulcer goes untreated, however, it can result in scarring and permanent vision loss.
Iritis, also known as anterior uveitis, is an inflammation of the iris, the colored portion of the eye. The iris is located at the front of the uvea, a highly vascular fibrous tissue. Iritis is the more common form of uveitis and frequently manifests in young to middle-aged individuals. Iritis usually develops quickly and may only affect one eye.
Causes of Iritis
The causes of iritis are unknown but it has been caused by some of the following:
- Trauma to the eye
- Shingles, or Herpes zoster ophthalmicus
- Autoimmune disease
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Reaction to medication
Symptoms of Iritis
The symptoms of iritis usually develop quickly and unexpectedly, while in some individuals they form slowly. Distinguishing symptoms of iritis may include:
- Irritation and redness of the eye
- Eye pain
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision
- The appearance of floaters
Diagnosis of Iritis
Iritis is diagnosed after a physical examination of the eye has taken place. In order to confirm diagnosis, the doctor may perform the following tests:
- Slit lamp examination
- Visual acuity examination
- Test for glaucoma
As a light is focused on the eyes, the eye with iritis will experience pain because of the constriction of the pupil.
Treatment of Iritis
To treat iritis, the patient will be encouraged to wear dark glasses and take drops to dilate the pupil to relieve pain and pressure. Serious cases of iritis may require an extended use of steroid eye drops as well as oral steroids to suppress the immune system. Iritis that results from an underlying condition such as herpes, AIDS or syphilis, will see improvement in the eye and iris once the disease is treated otherwise, iritis may become a chronic condition.