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What is Blepharitis?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid. Both humans and animals can develop this swelling, and in animals, it usually presents with spasms of the eyelid, hair loss near the eyes and red, swollen eyes.

There are many different causes of blepharitis. It is usually associated with conjunctivitis, also known as "pink eye" or "red eye." In conjunctivitis, the conjunctivae, or white parts of the eyes, become inflamed. This condition is very contagious.

There are several different types of blepharitis, including parasitic, solar and allergic. Parasitic blepharitis is seen quite commonly in dogs with mange. Hair loss usually accompanies this type, and a veterinarian can diagnose the condition with a skin sample.

Solar blepharitis can occur in animals without melanin in their eyelids. Melanin is a pigment that adds color to the skin. Those without color, or with very little color, in their skin are said to have albinism. Skin without a normal level of melanin is extremely sensitive to sunlight and is susceptible to inflammation.

Allergic blepharitis may be drug-related, as most allergies in animals tend to show symptoms on the skin. A veterinarian should be notified if it is possible that the inflammation is related to an allergy so that the medicine or other allergen can be avoided. If chronic inflammation is occurring, the vet may want to check for hypothyroidism, a disease of the endocrine system.

Symptoms of blepharitis usually include swollen and crusty eyelids and red, irritated eyes. The eyes may feel "gritty" as well, and eye discharge is also likely to occur. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic cream. Goats with entropion, a genetic condition in which the eyelids are reversed and scrape the eye, are often susceptible to inflammation. A veterinarian may prescribe washing the goat's eyes with a sodium sulphacetamid solution a few times daily.

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Discussion Comments
By SimpleByte — On Jan 15, 2014
@Ceptorbi: The application of moist compresses to the eyelid is one common treatment for blepharitis in Sjogren's patients. Cleansing of the eyelid is another. Physicians may also prescribe antibiotics if an infection is present or topical steroids to control inflammation.
By Ceptorbi — On Jan 14, 2014
@Nefertini: My mother was just diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome and has blepharitis. What is the treatment for blepharitis?
By Nefertini — On Jan 14, 2014
In humans, blepharitis causes include Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune arthritis that affects the moisturizing glands, including the lacrimal glands. This disease affects from one to four million people, mostly women.

Its symptoms include dry eye and dry mouth. Blepharitis in Sjogren’s patients is called posterior blepharitis and is also known as meibomian gland dysfunction. It involves the oil producing glands in the eyelid margin that produce the outer tear layers. This oil produced by the meibomian glands keeps tears from evaporating rapidly, and inflammation of these glands results in increased tear evaporation and dry eye.

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