Blepharitis is a common condition which can cause red, itchy and uncomfortable eyes. Part of the problem is often blockage of the meibomian glands. These glands produce the normal oily component of the tear film and help to keep the surface of the eye healthy. Although the symptoms of blepharitis can be unpleasant, it is rarely a serious or sight threatening condition.
There are several treatment options that can help to alleviate symptoms. If the meibomian glands are blocked, it can be helpful to perform regular warm compress and massage of the lid margins. Warm compress can be applied using microwaveable eye bags which can be purchased at pharmacists. Heat from these bags serves to liquify the meibomian gland secretions so they can be more easily expressed. Massage to the lid margins can be performed by applying pressure to the edge of the eyelid, close to the lashes where the openings of the glands are located. You should start at one end of the eyelid and gradually move across to the other end. Both upper and lower lids should be massaged.
If the ocular surface is dry, patients may benefit from frequent administration of lubricant eye drops which can be prescribed by a doctor or bought over the counter.
In some instances blepharitis may not respond to the above measures and prescription only medication, such as a course of steroid eye drops or an oral antibiotic medication may need to be prescribed by an ophthalmologist.
A chalazion is a localised swelling that develops in the upper or lower lid caused by a blockage of the meibomian glands.
Warm compress and massage to the chalazion is usually recommended and will lead to its resolution. If this fails, they can be treated by a minor procedure know as incision and curettage. This involves injecting local anaesthetic into the area and everting the eyelid. A small incision is made on the inner surface of the eyelid and the contents scooped out. Antibiotic ointment is instilled and a pressure pad applied to the eye for 2 -3 hours.