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Patient information A-Z

Blepharitis is a condition affecting the eyelids. In blepharitis, long-term inflammation of the eyelid margins causes symptoms of eye irritation. The eyelids become red, scaly, sore and/or itchy. Some patients may not experience any symptoms.

There are two types of blepharitis, which sometimes occur together. Treatment for both types of blepharitis consists of regular cleaning of the eyelids for as long as the symptoms persist

Anterior blepharitis affects the outer rim of the eyelids (near or among the roots of the eyelashes). Posterior blepharitis (also called Meibomian gland dysfunction) affects the meibomian glands, situated behind the eyelashes, along the inner rim of the eyelids. The meibomian glands produce a thin layer of oil which normally prevents the tears from evaporating too quickly; if they are inflamed, this mechanism does not work properly.

Lid hygiene involves a combination of warm compresses, lid massage and lid scrubs.

If you have been advised by your doctor to clean the eyelids, the following information should be of help to you:

Warm compresses and lid massage to loosen any deposits accumulated around your eyelashes’ roots and also to melt the oily substance in the meibomian glands.

Non-urgent advice: Instructions

Warm compresses and eye lid massage
  • Place warm water in a small bowl.
  • Soak a clean flannel or eye pad in the warm water.
  • Place it over your closed eyes for around 5-10 minutes and massage the margin of your lids, moving towards your lashes.
  • Wipe away any particles in the lid margin.
  • Make sure the flannel doesn’t get cold by reheating it in the warm water.

Alternative lid hygiene methods that some patients find useful:

  • Special microwaveable eyebag, followed by eye massage.
  • Cotton bud dipped in a solution of diluted baby shampoo in water (1:10) to clean your lid margins, particularly around the roots of the eyelashes (being careful not to go into the eye).
  • Eyelid-cleaning solutions and/or lid impregnated wipes available commercially.

Repeat this process every morning and evening to keep the lids clean.

Blepharitis is an ongoing condition which is likely to recur in the future. If symptoms return, resume the eyelid hygiene regime.

Avoid the use of certain cosmetics, particularly eye liner and mascara.

If you have any problems or questions about lid hygiene, please do not hesitate to ask any member of the medical or nursing staff caring for you.

Contact details

Cataract clinic

Telephone: 01223 216711

Clinic 3

Telephone: 01223 217778

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Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

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Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151