Blepharitis/MGD – A risk for those with KC…

August 2018 Update
August 30, 2018
Keratoconus & the Military
September 10, 2018
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Blepharitis/MGD – A risk for those with KC…

Have you ever been told you have blepharitis (blef-uh-RYE-tis)?

Blepharitis or Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is not uncommon, and occurs when the lubricating glands located at the edge of the upper and lower eyelids become clogged or blocked. Blepharitis can result in dandruff-like flakes or particles at the base of the eyelids, loss of eyelashes, itchy irritated eyes, red swollen eyelids, or a pimple on the eyelid called a chalazion (or stye).

And how do people usually react to the discomfort of blepharitis? By rubbing their eyes.

A recent study in Israel compared 50 individuals with keratoconus to a group of study subjects without eye disease. Both groups completed a survey about eye conditions and were given a complete eye exam. Although this was a small study, the results were revealing. The KC group reported significantly higher sensitivity to light (22% vs. 3% in the control group); discomfort in windy conditions or low humidity (12% vs. 1%) and irritated eyes during reading or computer use (16% vs. 0%). Dandruff-like scales on the eyelid were reported on 48% of KC subjects vs. 8% of controls as well as missing eyelashes (40% vs. 1%). A comparison of medical histories in the two groups reported symptoms of blepharitis in 24% of the KC study subjects and only 3% of the control subjects.

While there is no known statistic about the percentage of individuals with KC who also have blepharitis, there is a substantial overlap.


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Dr. Colton Heinrich, OD, of Clarke EyeCare Center in Wichita Falls, TX is sympathetic to patients who complain of these symptoms. “Blepharitis/MGD can result in itching, burning, and foreign body sensation, and for patients with KC, the last thing we want them to do is to rub their eyes.”

Lid hygiene is essential for management of blepharitis, and even more important to patients who might further aggravate KC by eye rubbing. Dr. Heinrich reports, “When managing patients with KC, it is important not to forget proper lid hygiene to improve their comfort and to warn against eye rubbing. Typically, I recommend patients perform warm compresses twice a day for at least 10 minutes, followed by lid scrubs. Lid scrubs can be performed with commercially available products like OCuSOFT or Systane, or mild baby shampoo and a warm wash cloth.”

Advanced cases may require medication, but for many, effective treatment for blepharitis can be simple to perform, and lack of treatment will increase eye discomfort and may result in progression of KC. Talk to your eye doctor if you believe you have symptoms of blepharitis/MGD.

Dr. Colton Heinrich, OD, FAAO, FSLS specializes in fitting specialty contact lenses for his patients at the Clarke EyeCare in Wichita Falls, TX.