Blepharitis occurs when an individual's eyelid becomes swollen or inflamed. Causes range from bacterial infection to allergies, but symptoms typically include a change in the growth of eyelashes and a buildup of oil on the eyelids. As the condition progresses, blepharitis symptoms can also manifest in the eye itself, typically with a red, bloodshot appearance. Vision problems may also develop in severe cases, and may include blurry eyesight and discomfort around bright lights and sunlight.
Different blepharitis symptoms manifest themselves in different parts of the eye. It is mainly a condition of the eyelid, the first symptoms may usually include swollen eyelids, dry skin in the area of the afflicted eye, or oil collecting in the eyelid. The eyelids may also look raw and red, especially in the area around the base of the eyelashes. This is often accompanied by an itching sensation, which may or may not lead to thinning eyelashes from both the condition of the eyelid and rubbing of the eyes. The eyelids themselves may become crusty if not properly cleaned, or there may be a dry buildup first thing in the morning.
Eyelashes are part of the body's defense system to protect the eye from infection and foreign particles, so blepharitis symptoms involving a loss or thinning of eyelashes can impact the health of the eye as well. Eyes may become red and irritated, and there may be a dry, uncomfortable sensation. As the condition progresses, it is also possible that the surface of the eye develops scratches from the individual rubbing the eye in an attempt to relieve the irritation.
The base of the eyelashes themselves may start to develop a crusty film, which can cause the individual eyelashes to begin to stick together. If the condition is left untreated, the crust can block the ducts near the eye, and result in styes and the growing of irregular lashes. When this occurs, the eyelid can acquire a rough, unhealthy appearance. This roughness can add to the feeling that there is something in the eye that cannot be flushed out.
By themselves, blepharitis symptoms may be inconclusive. This condition commonly exists in individuals who develop repeated sties or suffer from allergies that result in dry, irritated, or watery eyes. For those who wear eye makeup, not removing it in its entirety can also lead to the development of blepharitis. These conditions alongside the different blepharitis symptoms can help direct the diagnosis.