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Understanding and Treating Blepharitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Advanced Solutions

Key Takeaways

  • Common and Irritating Condition: Blepharitis is a prevalent eye condition causing irritation and dryness due to blocked meibomian glands.
  • Symptoms and Discomfort: Key symptoms include eye and eyelid irritation, a gritty sensation, redness, and inflammation.
  • Comprehensive Treatment Options: Effective treatments range from home care with cleaning solutions and warm compresses to advanced medical interventions like IPL and RF therapy.
  • Chronic Nature and Preventative Care: Blepharitis requires ongoing maintenance, good eyelid hygiene, and following a doctor’s treatment plan to manage and prevent flare-ups.

Understanding Blepharitis

Blepharitis is one of the most common conditions seen in our office, causing significant irritation and discomfort. This condition arises from the blockage of the meibomian glands along the eyelid margins. These glands open near the base of the eyelashes, and when blocked, bacteria and fatty secretions accumulate, causing inflammation and dryness.

Symptoms of Blepharitis

  • Eye and eyelid irritation
  • Sensation of a foreign object in the eye
  • Dryness and grittiness
  • Red, inflamed eyelids
  • Itching or burning sensations

Treatment Options

Home Care

  1. Cleaning: Use a hypochloric acid solution on pads to clean the eyelids, applying mild pressure with closed eyes.
  2. Warm Compresses: Special gel pads can help loosen blockages. Apply once or twice a day.

Medical Intervention

  1. Antibiotic-Steroid Combination: If home care is insufficient, see a doctor for prescription treatments.
  2. Meibomian Gland Expression: A doctor can manually express and clean the glands, providing immediate relief. One of our doctors performs this procedure very effectively, resulting in immediate improvement.

Advanced Treatments

  1. Intense Pulse Light (IPL):
    • Mechanisms:
      1. Reduces inflammation by targeting abnormal blood vessels.
      2. Liquefies thickened oils in the glands.
      3. Stimulates normal gland function.
      4. Has an antibacterial effect.
    • Benefits:
      • Non-invasive.
      • Also used for skin rejuvenation.
      • Typically requires 3-6 sessions.
  2. Radio Frequency (RF):
    • How It Works:
      • Uses radio waves to apply controlled heat to the glands.
      • Unblocks glands, improving oil production and tear film quality.
    • Benefits:
      • Enhances gland function and reduces inflammation.
      • Often used in combination with IPL for synergistic effects.

Combining IPL and RF treatments, followed by meibomian gland expression, offers a comprehensive solution for blepharitis and dry eyes. These treatments unclog glands, reduce inflammation, and rejuvenate the skin around the eyes. In Dr. Coen’s office, we use the latest RF and IPL devices for optimal results, often achieving noticeable improvement after the first treatment. Typically, four treatments are needed for the best outcomes.

Managing Related Conditions

Blepharitis may be associated with demodex mites, causing significant itching. Regular antibiotics are ineffective against these parasites. Treatment involves physically removing them, often using a tea tree oil solution. A new drop specifically for demodex treatment is in development but not yet FDA-approved.

Preventative Care

Blepharitis is a chronic condition requiring ongoing maintenance. Good eyelid hygiene and following a doctor’s treatment plan are crucial to managing the condition and preventing flare-ups. If you suspect you have blepharitis, consult an eye care professional for the best treatment plan.


Blepharitis is a common eye condition that requires a combination of good hygiene, medical treatment, and advanced procedures for effective management. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and available treatments can help individuals take control of their eye health and find relief from the discomfort associated with this condition. If you suffer from blepharitis, consult your ophthalmologist about IPL and RF treatments for optimal results.

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