1) Hot compresses
Blepharitis cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be well controlled with good eyelid hygiene.
Hot compresses for 1-2 minutes are the mainstay of treatment. The key is moist heat as this helps to melt the oils that have blocked up the pores in the eyelids. You can use a face flannel with hot water held over the closed eye for 15 seconds before immersing in hot water again , although some people find special eye hot compresses such as the MGDRx eye bag, EyeSoothe Blepharitis Eye Mask or The Eye Doctor eye bag more effective. The recommended regime is four times a day for two weeks, then twice a day for a month, and twice a week after that. If you are using a simple hot compress with a face flannel then warm saltwater soaks are preferred as this is more isotonic and thus more comfortable and less likely to wrinkle the eyelid skin.
Steam from a hot shower or sauna can help. Special eyelid warming goggles such as Blephasteam Goggles can be very effective, but are expensive.
Eyelid massage¹,² should be done after the hot compress to unblock the openings of the Meibomian glands and reduce the bacterial load. Use a cloth or cotton bud with warm water or Blephasol Sensitive Eyelids Eye Lotion to gently wipe the edge of the eyelids. Gentle compression, not rubbing, of closed eyelids is ideal—with or without the use of a sterile eye pad/ wipe such as Blephaclean Sterile Pads or Lumecare Eyelid wipes. If blepharitis is severe, you can very carefully use a cotton bud to remove the cap of oil from the gland orifice – but be very careful not to touch your eye and do this only after being shown how to do this safely by your Ophthalmologist.
Unfortunately the treatment of blepharitis is frustrating as there is no immediate fix – you will need to do the above for 3-4 weeks before you notice any improvement, and will need to continue the lid hygiene long-term, so at least twice a week thereafter to prevent it from returning.
2) Lubricating eye drops:
These help make the eyes more comfortable.³ Recommended artificial tear drops include:
3) Blinking exercises (“think-blink”)
Many people find blinking exercises to be effective. The mechanical action of blinking helps Meibomian glands secrete their oil, however the rate of blinking decreases with age and near vision tasks such as computer use or reading. A recommended regime to start with is to concentrate on blinking – so basically a big blink keeping the eye closed for about half a second, at least 20 times, four times a day.
4) Omega-3 dietary/ food supplements:
A diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids can help control blepharitis symptoms. Omega-3 supplementation improves tear film stability and dry eye symptoms.⁴⁻⁷
Omega-3 levels are particular high in foods such as some fish (Herring, Sardines, Mackerel, Salmon and Swordfish), and also Flaxseed, Chia seeds and Walnuts.
Omega-3 dietary supplements such as PRN Omega Eye contains Omega-3 in triglyceride form that has the best absorption by the body. Most fish-oil based Omega-3 supplements are in the ethyl-ester form, which are less well absorbed and have a fishy aftertaste or odour. Omega-3 supplements have to be taken for at least 4 to 6 weeks before there is any improvement in blepharitis symptoms.
Vitamin supplements for age-related macular degeneration with Omega-3, such as AREDS2 Preservision, are also available. This is based on the AREDS2⁸ study and contains vitamins C & E, lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc and copper in addition to omega-3.