This is quite a common condition, accounting for about 1 in 20 eye problems reported. It’s not serious, but it can lead to other conditions like dry eye syndrome.

What are the symptoms of blepharitis?

  • Itchy and sore eyelids
  • Eyelids that stick together and are difficult to open, particularly when you wake up
  • Eyelashes that become crusty or greasy

Blepharitis can develop at any age, but is more common in people over 40. It’s not serious although it can lead to further problems. For example, many people with blepharitis also develop dry eye syndrome, which can cause eyes to feel dry, gritty and sore. Serious, sight-threatening problems are rare, particularly if any complications that develop are identified and managed quickly.

What causes blepharitis?

Blepharitis can be caused by an infection, inflammation or as a complication of a skin condition, such as:

Seborrhoeic dermatitis

a condition that causes the skin to become oily or flaky


a condition that causes the face to appear red and blotchy

What help is available?

Blepharitis is usually a long-term condition. Most people experience repeated episodes, separated by periods without symptoms.

While it cannot usually be cured, a daily eyelid-cleaning routine that involves applying a warm compress – gently massaging your eyelids and wiping away any crusts – can help control the symptoms. Medicated wipes and solutions are very effective in controlling the condition.

More severe cases may require antibiotics that are either applied to the eye or eyelid directly, or taken as tablets. In isolated cases referral to an ophthalmologist for further tests and treatment may be required.

If you think you need help, contact your local Specsavers optometrist.

Did you know?

AA Members are entitled to a free eye test (valued at $60), once every two years. Remember to present your AA Membership card in store.

Frequently asked questions

Free exam for AA Members applies to standard eye examinations only, normally valued at $60. Excludes contact lens examination and visual field checks. Limited to one per AA Member every two years. Available to current AA Members upon presentation of AA Membership card.