Blepharitis means inflammation of the eyelid. In most cases, the inflammation affects the outer two layers of the eyelids; in some cases it may spread to involve the inner lining or palpebral conjunctiva.
What causes blepharitis?
- Congenital abnormalities
- Other inflammatory disorders (occasionally)
What are the symptoms of blepharitis?
Blepharitis can affect one or both eyes. The affected eyelid will usually be red, swollen, and itchy, with spasmodic blinking and rubbing at its face and/or eyelids. This can lead to secondary trauma to the surrounding tissues. There may be a discharge from the eye and the discharge may be clear, mucoid, or purulent (containing pus). In more severe cases, the inflammation may spread and include conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva), or keratitis (inflammation of the cornea).
How is blepharitis diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will conduct a thorough eye examination. Samples may be collected and sent to a diagnostic laboratory for viral identification or bacterial culture and sensitivity testing to determine the type of treatment that is needed. If your veterinarian suspects an allergy, further testing may be necessary to determine the specific allergic cause. For suspect tumors, a biopsy will be necessary to determine the nature of the tumor.
How is blepharitis treated?
Your veterinarian may recommend short-term symptomatic treatment for the inflammation, such as application of warm compresses for 5-15 minutes several times per day, and removal of any discharges using sterile saline eye drops or an eye cleanser. Surgery is the treatment of choice for correcting eyelid abnormalities or removing tumors. Bacterial infections will be treated with topical antibacterial ointments or drops. Chronic herpes virus infections may be managed with antiviral drops when the condition flares up. If a food allergy is diagnosed, the condition may be manageable with diet alone.