Blepharitis – a holistic view

Blepharitis is an increasingly common condition in the UK.

Sufferers can be plagued by gritty, burning eyes with blurring of vision in severe cases.

There are broadly two forms of blepharitis – anterior and posterior. Anterior blepharitis is characterised by a scaly lid margin and/or keratin deposition at the eyelash roots.

Posterior blepharitis is characterised by meibomian gland dysfunction. Meibomian glands lie along the eyelid margin and produce an oily substance that helps stabilise the tear film, keeping the eye moist and comfortable.

Meibomian gland dysfunction is very common in the UK at the moment. The exact cause is unclear, but there do seem to be some interesting treatments and exacerbating factors that may point towards risk factors.

Traditional treatments for this condition including lid hygiene and warm compresses can be found on the following site:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/blepharitis/treatment/

I would like to discuss a more holistic approach to the condition here.

Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to help patients with Meibomian gland dysfunction possibly through an anti-inflammatory effect. It is interesting to note that the modern UK diet has lead to a lower omega 3: omega 6 ratio and this state is considered pro inflammatory. Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation is one way of rebalancing this ratio.

Stress is a clear trigger for acute Meibomian gland dysfunction in a number of patients. This is characterised by chalazion formation – a firm nodule in the eyelid.

An awareness of the dietary influences and psychological influences on meibomian gland dysfunction may be a valuable component in the successful management of this troublesome condition.