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Blepharitis is a common eye condition that causes the eyelids to become sore and inflamed. Below we explain what causes blepharitis and when you should seek treatment.

What is blepharitis?

Blepharitis causes eyelids to become red, swollen and inflamed. It doesn’t normally cause serious damage to the eyes, but it can be very uncomfortable. It tends to be a long-term condition, which means you’re likely to need ongoing treatment. Severe cases do have a risk of causing long-term damage, but fortunately, these are quite rare.

Types of blepharitis

There are two main types of blepharitis – anterior and posterior.

Anterior blepharitis

When the front (anterior) part of the eyelids becomes sore, this can be caused by an infection or a general sensitivity to bacteria present on the eyelids. It can also be associated with microorganism infection of the lids, dry eye or certain skin conditions.

Posterior blepharitis

Also known as meibomian gland dysfunction is when the glands that make the oily part of your tears become blocked. Both types of blepharitis can cause dry eye or make it worse if you already have it. Many people will have a combination of blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction and dry eye.

In cases where both anterior and posterior types of blepharitis occur, this is referred to as mixed blepharitis.

Risk factors

Blepharitis is more common in people over the age of 50, but anyone can develop it. This is often because the glands that make the normal tears, particularly the oily part of the tears, tend to become less effective with age.


Blepharitis can cause visible inflammation in the eyelid, crusting and white scales may stick to the roots of eyelashes. Your eyelid edges may become red and your eyes will feel gritty, burning, sore or itchy. If you experience these symptoms, make an appointment with your Optometrist.


There is a range of products designed especially for treating blepharitis, such as sterile pads, individual moist wipes and separate cleaning solutions.

Your Optometrist will be able to advise you on the most appropriate products for you. Antibiotic ointment may be recommended in severe cases.

Treatment of blepharitis is a long-term procedure and you may not see any improvement for several weeks. As part of the treatment, you need to remove all the crusting and debris from the edge of your eyelids and from between your eyelashes, using the recommended cleaning solution or lid cleaning wipes. 

Treatment method