When are additional treatments indicated for adult blepharitis?

Updated: Jan 03, 2019
  • Author: R Scott Lowery, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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Specific clinical situations may require additional treatment. Refractory cases of blepharitis often respond to oral antibiotic use. One- or two-month courses of tetracycline class agents often are helpful in reducing symptoms in patients with more severe disease and those with acne rosacea. Tetracycline, doxycycline, and minocycline are believed not only to reduce bacterial colonization but also to alter metabolism and reduce glandular dysfunction. The use of metronidazole and topical minocycline is being studied.

Tear film dysfunctions can prompt use of artificial tear solutions, tear ointments, and closure of the puncta. Associated conditions, such as herpes simplex, varicella-zoster, or staphylococcal skin disease, can require specific antimicrobial therapy based on culture. Seborrheic disease is often improved by the use of shampoos with selenium, although its use around the eyes is not recommended. Allergic dermatitis can respond to topical corticosteroid or Elidel therapy.

Conjunctivitis and keratitis can result as a complication of blepharitis and require additional treatment besides eyelid margin therapy. Antibiotic-corticosteroid solutions can greatly reduce inflammation and symptoms of conjunctivitis. Corneal infiltrates also can be treated with antibiotic-corticosteroid drops. Small marginal ulcers can be treated empirically, but larger, paracentral, or atypical ulcers should be scraped and specimens sent for diagnostic slides and for culture and sensitivity testing.

Recurrent bouts of inflammation and scarring from blepharitis can promote eyelid positional disease. Trichiasis and lid notching can result in keratitis and severe symptoms. These conditions often are very refractory to simple management steps. Trichiasis is treated with epilation, destruction of the follicles via electric current, laser, or cryotherapy, or with surgical excision. Entropion or ectropion can develop and complicate the clinical situation and may require referral to an oculoplastic surgeon to repair the lid abnormality.

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