What Happens If Blepharitis Is Left Untreated?

Blepharitis is a common inflammation of the eyelids, which is usually fairly mild and responds well to careful management. But what would happen if you didn’t treat it? In this blog we look at the complications of chronic, untreated blepharitis.

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is the name given to a common chronic inflammation of the eyelids, caused by a combination of factors, among them blocked oil ducts, overgrowth of yeasts, bacteria or mites on the skin. It can be associated with and exacerbated by allergies, chronic skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis and rosacea, as well as hormonal imbalances and infection.

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

  • Dry eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Watering eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Gritty sensation
  • Stinging sensation
  • Crusting on eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light

How serious is blepharitis?

Blepharitis is usually not very serious, although it can be extremely uncomfortable for those suffering from it. It tends to be worse in the morning, especially on waking, when eyelids can be crusted over or even gummed together. Most cases are managed with careful hygiene and washing regimes, and if these measures don’t work, then doctors can prescribe steroids or antibiotic eye drops.

What are the complications of blepharitis?

If left untreated, blepharitis can lead to other problems with the eye and eyelids.

  • Eyelashes can fall out
  • Eyelashes can grow abnormally
  • Eyelids can get scarred, thickened or deformed
  • Tear ducts can get blocked, and lead to irritated, watery eyes or dry eyes.
  • Painful styes can develop at the root of the eyelashes
  • Chalazions can be caused when oil glands are blocked, resulting in a swollen bump on the eyelid
  • Conjunctivitis/pink eye
  • Corneal injuries caused by irritated eyelids and insufficient tears
  • Impaired or blurry vision
  • Very rarely - ulceration or perforation of the cornea

For most sufferers, complications are unlikely and treatment is effective, even if they’re likely to get recurrent bouts of the condition. Treatment is useful not just to prevent complications but improve people's lives, which can be blighted by having permanently itchy, sore, uncomfortable eyes.

For more information about how to manage blepharitis, read our article What Is The Fastest Way To Cure Blepharitis?

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