Ask the Optician


What is Blepharitis?

By Emma Moletto
Reviewed by Beck Jinnette
Beck Jinnette

Reviewed by

Beck Jinnette
Beck has over 17 years of experience in eye care, holding her Certificate IV in Dispensing in Australia.
Blepharitis is a condition that irritates the eyelids. Learn all about it and how to treat it.
man with blepharitis

Disclaimer:  We at SmartBuyGlasses are not medical doctors. This article contains general advice. If your eyelids are inflamed, consult your doctor or an eye care professional for treatment.

Blepharitis is a medical term that indicates an inflammation of the eyelids. This occurs due to infection at the base of eyelashes or when the tiny oil glands at the base of the eyelashes become clogged.

It’s characterised by an inflammation of the eyelids that causes sore red eyelids or crusty eyelashes. 

This condition may also cause burning, itching or a gritty sensation. Although blepharitis is not sight-threatening, it can lead to discomfort and chronic conditions if not treated and managed. 

eye with blepharitits
eye with blepharitits

Eyelid inflammation is very common. In a survey of American ophthalmologists and optometrists, eye doctors reported that 37% and 47% of their respective patients had experienced blepharitis symptoms at some point in their lives. (Lemp & Nichols 2009) 

Luckily, eye doctors are able to prescribe effective blepharitis treatments that can limit eyelid inflammation and help resolve the issue.

What are the causes of blepharitis?

Blepharitis is caused by a type of bacteria that lives on the skin, a skin condition such as seborrheic dermatitis and the glands inside the eyelids not producing enough oil.

However, there are several other possible causes of blepharitis, including:

  • Seborrheic dermatitis, a chronic form of eczema
  • Rosacea, a skin condition characterised by facial inflammation
  • Dry eyes  (something you may experience and linked to blepharitis)

  • Allergies, including allergic reactions to eye medications, contact lens solutions or eye makeup
  • Parasites (Demodex eyelash mites)
  • Eyelash extensions
causes of blepharitis
causes of blepharitis

Blepharitis is most likely a multifactorial condition (Eberhardt & Rammohan 2023), meaning it can have multiple causes, such as bacterial infections, inflammatory skin conditions and parasitic infestations.

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

The most common symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Burning or stinging eyes
  • Crusty debris at the base of eyelashes
  • Irritated, watery eyes
  • Itchy eyelids
  • Grittiness or a foreign body sensation


Depending on the severity of blepharitis, you may have some or all of these symptoms and blepharitis symptoms may be intermittent or constant. In some cases, blepharitis also causes loss of eyelashes (madarosis).

Blepharitis is also a common cause of contact lens discomfort, forcing many people to give up on wearing contacts. Blepharitis can cause disruption to the tear film, which can affect contact lens wear comfort.

symptoms of blepharitis
symptoms of blepharitis

Are there different types of blepharitis?

Blepharitis can be categorised into two types, anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis, based on its location on the eyelids.

Anterior blepharitis

Anterior blepharitis is commonly caused by a bacterial infection (staphylococcal blepharitis) or dandruff of the scalp and eyebrows (seborrheic blepharitis).

These bacteria are commonly found on the face and eyelids, but if they become excessive or the lid area reacts poorly to their presence, an infection may occur. Less commonly, allergies or a mite infestation of the eyelashes can cause anterior blepharitis.

Posterior blepharitis

Posterior blepharitis can occur when the glands of the eyelids irregularly produce oil (meibomian blepharitis). This creates a favorable environment for bacterial growth.

Posterior blepharitis can also develop as a result of other skin conditions, such as rosacea and scalp dandruff.

Am I at risk for blepharitis?

In some cases, a person might be more at risk of contracting blepharitis. For example, these are some risk factors:

  • Wearing contact lenses
  • Not removing makeup thoroughly
  • Having oily skin
  • Having dandruff
  • Suffering from allergies
  • Having rosacea

What not to do with blepharitis?

To effectively manage blepharitis, there are a few things you should avoid during the course of the treatment.

It is advisable not to wear contact lenses while experiencing symptoms, as they can worsen the condition and hinder the healing process.

Additionally, refrain from using eye makeup, especially eyeliner and mascara, as they can introduce irritants.

It is also recommended to replace any eye makeup that has been used to avoid reintroducing the bacteria.

On the other hand, there are also some to-dos you can follow. Firstly, make it a habit to clean your eyelids twice a day at the beginning of your treatment with the prescribed eye lid wash from your healthcare professional.

As your symptoms improve, you can gradually reduce it to once a day. Eyelid hygiene cleaning is important even if your symptoms clear up, as it helps maintain good eye hygiene.

do's and don'ts with blepharitis
do's and don'ts with blepharitis

Blepharitis treatment

If you’re experiencing symptoms that you think may indicate blepharitis, it is recommended to see an eye doctor for an eye exam. He or she will assess the best way to treat your condition with some of the following methods:

  • Eye drops. Steroid eye drops can control redness, swelling and irritation. Also, artificial tears may be an option.

  • Medicines to fight infection. If your blepharitis is caused by bacterial infection, your eye doctor may prescribe topical antibiotic eye drops, ointments or pills.

  • Treating the root causes. Treating an underlying health issue such as rosacea or dandruff, if it is the cause of your blepharitis, can be beneficial in alleviating the symptoms.


Follow your doctor’s advice, and your blepharitis should heal up in one or two weeks, depending on the severity. For any doubts or questions, you can always consult our certified online opticians.


Lemp, M.A. and Nichols, K.K. (2009), Blepharitis in the United States 2009: A survey-based perspective on prevalence and treatment, The Ocular Surface, 7(2). 

Eberhardt, Mary, and Guhan Rammohan (2023),Blepharitis – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.”, National Library of Medicine. 

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