What is blepharitis? Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelash follicles and the skin along the eyelid margin. In blepharitis, the eyelid margins become swollen, flaky and scaly. This disease results from an excess growth of bacteria that are normally found on the eyelids. This growth generally occurs because of an overabundance of oil produced by the glands near the eyelids. Normally, the oil becomes the outer layer of the healthy tear film and prevents its rapid evaporation. As a result of the interplay between eyelids and the eyeball, chronic blepharitis, eye discomfort, and decreased vision often occur together. Blepharitis can also develop because of the presence of mites at the base of the eyelashes. People with skin conditions such as rosacea or seborrheic dermatitis are more prone to blepharitis. If you have blepharitis, your eyes may feel itchy, gritty, sore or burning. Other symptoms of blepharitis include crusting on the eyelid margins and redness, swelling, watering or discharge from the eyes. This discharge may cause your eyelashes or even your eyelids to feel stuck together when you awaken. Blepharitis may be mistaken for other eye (ocular) disorders, such as conjunctivitis or a stye or chalazion (small bump in the eyelid caused by a blockage of a tiny oil gland). Blepharitis typically affects all four eyelids. Only your health care provider can properly diagnosis blepharitis. If you suspect you have blepharitis, seek prompt medical attention. Blepharitis treatment usually involves application of warm, damp compresses and cleansing of the eyelid area to remove excess skin oils. In some cases, your health care provider may prescribe an antibiotic ointment. Left untreated, blepharitis can become a chronic condition and lead to loss of eyelashes, as well as more serious eye diseases such as corneal ulcers. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, have bleeding from the eyes, severe eye pain, sudden changes in vision, or sudden increase in sensitivity to light.