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Blepharitis is a very common condition meaning inflammation of the eyelids. It usually results from a problem on a small oil gland in the eyelids not secreting the oils that form part of the tears well enough.

Blepharitis can result in eye and eyelid redness, irritation, crusting and a dry or sandy feeling in the eyes. It is often found in association with dry eyes. It is usually treated in a step-wise fashion including:

  • Warm Compresses: This is the first and most important step in the treatment of blepharitis. Use warm tap water on a clean wash cloth placed over both eyes for 10-15 minutes 1-2 times a day. The washcloth cools off in a few minutes so it usually needs to be reheated several times. Alternatively, you can purchase a hot/cold gel pack, which can be heated to the appropriate temperature in the microwave. The washcloth can then be wrapped around the gel pack and will stay warm for 10-15 minutes.
  • Antibiotic ointment: 1/4 inch of ointment is applied to the eyes near the lower lids at bedtime. It causes some temporary blurring of the vision so use it right before turning off the light.
  • Antibiotic pills: Tetracycline 250 mg, 4 times a day or doxycycline 100 mg, 2 times a day for several months is often used. Tetracycline (but not doxycycline) should not be taken within several hours of milk products. Both of these medications make the skin somewhat more sensitive to the sun (so you might sunburn more easily than usual) and also should not be used if pregnant or breastfeeding. As with any antibiotic, there is a higher risk of yeast infection while on the medication. The dosage is often decreased after several months although some patients can stay on the medication for years.
  • Eyelid scrubs: Johnson's Baby Shampoo mixed 50:50 with warm tap water placed on a clean wash cloth (or Q-tip if you prefer) is used to gently scrub and massage the edges of the eyelids near where the eyelashes come out for 5 minutes 2 times a day.

It often takes weeks to notice significant improvements after starting treatment. Once improvement is noted the frequency of the treatment can often be reduced, but not stopped. If the treatment is stopped the blepharitis tends to return.

Bill PayVantage Eye Center: With two offices in Monterey, and an office and Surgery Center in Salinas, Vantage Eye Center is the Central Coast's most comprehensive eye care facility.


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