Although your first instinct when dealing with dry, itchy eyes may be that you contracted an eye infection, in many cases the truth is that you contracted an eyelid infection, known as blepharitis. This bacterial eye infection usually comes in one of these forms – anterior blepharitis and posterior blepharitis – or both. The anterior condition affects the exterior of the eye around the eyelash area, where the posterior condition affects the actual eyelids themselves.
Common symptoms of this irritating infection include burning, teary eyes, itchy eyes, redness in and around the eye, flaking and crushing and / or the feeling of having something in your eye that should not be there. In many cases, once you have Blepharitis, you may also find that you contracted pink eye. Unfortunately, despite the infection can be treated, Blepharitis is generally known as a disease which re-occurs. Once you have had it, the chances are that you will have it over and over again – especially if you do not take the necessary precautions.
Let's look at the steps you can take to counter the symptoms. First and foremost, good eye hygiene is essential. Aside from the regular steps like washing your eyes with water, not wearing contact lenses for long periods and so on, you will probably also need to begin buying proper eyelid wiping and cleaning each eye with a separate wipe once or twice a day. If the infection is particularly severe, then you may need eye drops, creams and oral medication. The most important thing to remember is that keeping your eyes moist is your first step in fighting infection, so blink often, or compensate with eye drops.
Unfortunately, as with so many other infections, Blepharitis comes in degrees of severity. An Anterior Blepharitis diagnosis may actually mean that one is dealing with Staphylococcal Blepharitis, which may actually cause eyelashes to fall out and will need to be treated with antibiotics.
Another level of Anterior Blepharitis is Seborrheic Blepharitis which is actually caused by a skin condition that then goes on to affect the eyes by causing flaky and scaling eye lids. For this, sufferers will need to wash with special eyelid scrubs and use non-detergent shampoos.
A third extension of the Anterior Blepharitis infection is Demodex Blepharitis which is when teeny tiny little mites and whatever they come with (including their waste) get cooked up in the follicles at the root of your eyelashes. Other such mites may gather in the oil glands of your skin and eyelids. The most common treatment is an over-the-counter eyelid scrub which is enriched with tea tree oil.
Posterior Blepharitis includes two possible subcategories – Meibomian Blepharitis and Rosacea Blepharitis. Meibomian Blepharitis is a gland infection and usually means that one does not secret enough oil from ones eye glands. When one suffers from this condition, then one might find that one has foamy tears. Rosacea Blepharitis usually comes alongside Acne Rosacea, which is when one suffers from pimple-like bumps and redness on one's face. Although the results are not definitive, studies have shown that this infection is linked to over exposure to the sun. People suffering from this infection will usually also suffer from sties or chalazions.
In all cases, while one is suffering from the worst of Blepharitis, contact lenses are a no-no and so, you will need to pull out your prescription eyeglasses and expect to wear them for at least 10 days (possibly more) before attempting contact lenses again. You should also set an appointment with your eye doctor for a thorough eye examination – not to determine whether your eyeglasses prescription has changed, but to check that all is in order with your eyes and that there is nothing else going on in there.