Blepharitis and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

blepharitisBlepharitis is a condition where the edges of the eyelids become inflamed (red and swollen). 

It is a common condition, accounting for an estimated 1 in 20 eye problems reported to GPs. Blepharitis can develop at any age, but is more common in people over 40.

Signs of blepharitis can include:

  • Itchy and sore eyelids
  • Eyelids that stick together and are difficult to open, particularly when you wake up
  • Eyelashes that become crusty or greasy

What causes blepharitis?

Blepharitis can be caused by an infection with Staphylococcus bacteria, or as a complication of a skin condition, such as:

  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis – a condition that causes the skin to become oily or flaky
  • Rosacea- a condition that causes the face to appear red and blotchy

Blepharitis is not contagious.

How blepharitis is treated

Blepharitis is usually a long-term condition. Most people experience repeated episodes, separated by periods without symptoms. For some this can be quite severe and treatment to aid control is highly recommended.

Blepharitis cannot usually be cured, but a daily eyelid-cleaning routine that involves applying a warm compress – gently massaging your eyelids and wiping away any crusts – can help control the symptoms. But at Pendleburys we also offer a Dry Eye clinic with a comprehensive range of treatments which are tailored to the individual patients needs.  Through our Dry Eye clinic we can offer assessment and treatment programmes to assist with the successful management of Blepharitis, including Blephex (link).  In practice assessment and treatment, combined with a recommended home care plan, now enables patients to have much improved control of this condition; this in turn aids comfort and appearance of the eyes.

At Pendleburys we do sell preparations and wipes for cleaning the lids. Please ask at Reception or speak to your optometrist at your appointment.

More severe cases may require antibiotics that are either applied to the eye or eyelid directly, or taken as tablets.

Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)

The Meibomian glands are arranged vertically within the eyelid near the lashes. The force of an eyelid blink causes oil to be excreted onto the posterior lid margin. It is the oil of the tears that helps prevent rapid tear evaporation. In a patient with Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), vision is affected because there is too much or too little oil in the tear film.

MGD is the most common form of lid margin disease. In the early stages, patients are often without symptoms, but if left unmanaged, MGD can cause or exacerbate dry eye symptoms and eyelid inflammation as the oil glands become blocked with thickened secretions. Chronically clogged glands eventually become unable to secrete oil which results in changes in the tear film and dry eyes. As part of our DRY EYE CLINIC , we can assess and recommend a course of treatment for MGD.   Symptoms include:

Light Sensitivity
Red Eyes
Foreign Body Sensation
Intermittent Blurry Vision


Blepharitis is not usually serious, although it can lead to a number of further problems. For example, many people with blepharitis also develop Dry Eye Syndrome (a condition where the eyes do not produce enough tears or dry out too quickly), which can cause your eyes to feel dry, gritty and sore.

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

Further Information

Blepharitis (NHS Choices)