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What inflamed eyelids can indicate
According to health experts, almost every second patient at the ophthalmologist suffers from inflamed eyelids. A medical doctor explains why warm towels can help those affected, but chamomile can be harmful.
Taped eyes and itchy eyelid rims
If the eyes are often sticky in the morning, burning or itching and the edges of the eyelids are red, this indicates an inflammation of the eyelid edges (blepharitis). This often attacks the eyeball and leads to reddening of the conjunctiva with foreign body sensation in the eye and scratching. Professor Dr. Thomas Reinhard, Medical Director of the Ophthalmology Clinic at the University Medical Center Freiburg, explains in a message what can help those affected and when they should better go to the doctor.
Some patients experience poor vision
“Inflammation of the eyelid often leads to dry eyes and dry eyes to inflammation again. So the problem is often mutually reinforcing, ”explains Prof. Dr. Reinhard.
Redness remains in some people, but in others there is pain and a significant deterioration in vision. "Blepharitis must be treated if the affected person has symptoms," says the eye expert.
The causes are varied and often unclear: environmental factors such as smoking and cosmetics play a role, but so do allergies, neurodermatitis or skin diseases such as rosacea.
And: "A disruption of the bacterial colonization of the eyelid margin can lead to inflammation," writes the professional association of ophthalmologists in Germany (BVA) in a message.
Oily film protects the eyes
According to Prof. Reinhard, the so-called meibomian glands are a central element of blepharitis. The approximately 100 sebaceous glands in the eyelid margins secrete an oily secretion, through which the watery tear film remains on the eye for longer.
However, if the glands produce too little or incorrect secretion, the tear fluid drains away too quickly and the eye dries out.
Foamy tears can make a too thin secretion noticeable, which only insufficiently protects the eyes. Irritation occurs and bacteria colonize.
At the same time, bacteria can decompose the secretion and thus also contribute to drying out. According to the ophthalmologist, it is often difficult to say what cause and what effect.
Optimal eye hygiene
But too thick a secretion can also cause problems. In such cases, the glands become blocked, the eye also dries out and the secretion migrates into the surrounding tissue. A so-called hailstone develops.
So far it has not been clarified whether so-called Demodex mites can also cause blepharitis by clogging the glands.
The tiny pathogens live in the hair shafts of the eyelashes of many people. “When we find the mites, we show them to the patient under the microscope. This motivates many to take eye hygiene more seriously, ”says Professor Reinhard.
As stated in the message from the university clinic, daily, optimal eye hygiene is essential for recovery.
Warm towel or gel mask
Those affected should put a warm (not too hot) cloth or gel mask on their closed eyes for about ten minutes each day and then gently massage the eyelids with cotton wool.
If yellow-white liquid emerges, it can be carefully removed with cotton swabs.
If that is not enough, artificial tears can help against the drought. And if that is not enough, the doctor can treat the eye with immune-inhibiting agents.
The complaints usually come from an excessive inflammatory reaction. That makes the eye calm again.
Beware of self-therapy with antibiotics and home remedies
However, the ophthalmologist strongly advises against self-therapy. “Self-made antibiotic therapies often create resistance. And treating them is much more complex, ”warns Professor Reinhard.
In his opinion, you should also keep away from home remedies such as chamomile, even mixed saline solutions and vinegar rinses:
"In case of doubt, this damages the eye more than the infection," says the doctor. In any case, those affected need patience. Because improvements usually only appear after a few weeks.
And it may well be that blepharitis comes back: “To the dismay of those affected, the disease is persistent. It usually runs in waves and is recurring, ”explains the BVA. (ad)