What causes blepharitis?

1 answer | Last updated: May 13, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

What causes Blepharitis (eyelash inflammation)?

Expert Answers

Lylas Mogk, M.D. is an ophthalmologist and director of the Henry Ford Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center in Grosse Pointe and Livonia, Michigan, and the author of Macular Degeneration: The Complete Guide to Saving and Maximizing Your Sight.

The most common cause for blepharitis is clogged oil glands in eyelids caused by poor consistency of oil, ie. the oil is too thick. When we blink oil is supposed to be milked out of oil glands whose openings are in the eyelid edge, next to the base of our eyelashes. If the oil is solid, like crisco, rather than liquid, like oil, it doesn't come out; rather it backs up in the gland, causing inflammation in the lid margin. The solidified oil right at the opening crystalizes and becomes little sandy flecks in the eyelashes, which irritate further and make a good place for infection to develop. To avoid this scenario: take an omega-3 fatty acid capsule to help normalize the consistency of the oil in those glands.