Symptoms depend on the cause of the blepharitis. They are usually worse in the morning and involve both eyes.
Symptoms may include:
- Redness, flaky skin, and oily secretions along the edge of the eyelid
- Crusty material clinging to the eyelashes
- Eyelids “glued together” in the morning
- Dry scales or dandruff-type material on the scalp and eyebrows
- Itching or burning sensation
- Light sensitivity
- Sensation of a foreign object in the eye
- Ulcers or sores at the base of the eyelashes (in severe cases)
- Scant, broken eyelashes
- Chalazions (nonpainful bumps in the eyelid), which may become infected (called a stye)
- Conjunctivitis (occasionally)
The doctor will take your temperature, ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Initially you may not have any special tests. If the inflammation looks unusual for blepharitis or fails to respond to treatment, the doctor may do a culture by passing a swab across the edge of the lid. The swab is sent to a lab to see if bacteria grow, and, if so, what kind. Your ophthalmologist may also decide to perform a biopsy by removing a tiny piece of the eyelid margin for microscopic examination to be certain that there is no sign of cancer (rarely, some cancers can mimic chronic blepharitis).