Casey Eye Institute at OHSU, Portland, Oregon

Where Healing, Teaching and Discovery Come Together


Description of Disorder

Blepharitis is a common disorder that involves the edge of the eyelid in the area from where the eyelashes grow. It is a chronic low-grade inflammation, similar to dandruff, which leads to the buildup of crust on the eyelashes and mild redness and swelling of the skin in the same area. The purpose of treatment is to control the symptoms as it is a condition that cannot be cured with a single treatment.


•    Presence of crust or “sleep” adherent to eyelashes and edge of eyelid
•    Itching of the eyelid in the area of the eyelashes
•    Redness of the edge of the eyelid
•    Feeling that there is grit in the eye or that the eyes are dry
•    Diagnosed by ophthalmologic examination using a biological microscope.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment initially involves the daily application of heat to the eyelid using warm a washcloth. Heat should be applied for at least 5 minutes and may be followed by a 30 second gentle scrubbing of the eyelashes.  Pharmacies sell pre-moistened towelettes or special cleansing foam for this purpose. Alternatively, you can use a small amount of baby shampoo on a wet washcloth or cotton-tip applicator to do the eyelash scrubs. The daily application of artificial tears (also available over-the-counter at most pharmacies) may help control the symptoms. If these measures don’t help, you may obtain a consultation with the Comprehensive Ophthalmology Clinic (503-494-4029).