Blepharitis occurs when the eyelid becomes inflamed. The lids can appear red, swollen, and crusted. Dry eye can be a symptom of blepharitis.

Blepharitis usually develops when there are too many bacteria on the eyelid near the base of the eyelashes. Clogged oil glands may also cause the condition.

Dry eye occurs when:

  • glands within the eyelid do not make enough tears to keep the eyes wet
  • tears dry up too quickly
  • tears are not the right type to keep eyes lubricated

This article examines the link between blepharitis and dry eye; the symptoms, causes, and treatments; and when to contact a doctor.

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Blepharitis and dry eye share many symptoms, but they are distinct conditions. However, dry eye may occur with blepharitis, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).

Blepharitis causes flaking and crusting to develop on the eyelashes. Flakes can get into the tear film, a thin layer of tears across the eye’s surface. This causes the eyes to feel dry. Eyes may also feel dry but watery if tears are not the right mix of oil and water.

Blepharitis and dry eye do not typically resolve completely, the NEI notes.

There are two types of blepharitis: anterior and posterior.

Anterior blepharitis affects the outside edge of the eyelid, where eyelashes attach. It develops as a reaction to bacteria on the eyelids. Posterior blepharitis affects the inner edge of the eyelid and occurs due to clogged oil glands.

Symptoms of blepharitis include:

More serious concerns that can arise include:

  • blurry vision
  • eyelashes falling out
  • eyelashes growing in the wrong direction
  • problems with the cornea

Learn more about blepharitis here.

Dry eye occurs when the eye does not make the proper amount or type of tears to stay lubricated. This can cause discomfort and, in some cases, vision problems.

Symptoms of dry eye include:

Learn more about dry eye here.

The cause of blepharitis depends on the type.

Anterior blepharitis affects the outside front edge of the eyelid, where the eyelashes attack. Bacteria commonly found on the face and eyelids are the most common cause. If the bacteria become too numerous or the eyelid reacts to them, an infection can develop and cause blepharitis.

Posterior blepharitis affects the inner edge of the eyelid on the side where it meets the eyeball. This type occurs when there is an issue with the eye’s oil glands. Other conditions like rosacea and dandruff can also trigger this type of blepharitis.

Learn about how the eyes work here.

Glands within the eyelids produce the tear film that keeps the eyes wet. Sometimes, these glands do not produce enough tears or the right type. Tears may dry up too quickly or fail to keep the eyes lubricated.

People can take steps to treat blepharitis and dry eye at home. However, doctors sometimes recommend medication.

Blepharitis treatment

To treat blepharitis, clean the eyelids daily to keep them crust-free, the NEI advises. Water and a gentle cleanser are the best cleaning method.

A doctor may prescribe eye drops or medication if they suspect an infection. If another condition, such as rosacea or dandruff, is a concern, the doctor may also recommend addressing that condition.

Learn how to clean the eyes here.

Dry eye treatment

There are several treatment options for dry eye. Over-the-counter eye drops are the first step. If these do not work, the doctor may order a prescription-strength eye drop.

A person can try the following strategies for avoiding dry eye triggers:

  • avoid smoke, wind, and air conditioning
  • use a humidifier at home
  • limit screen time and take breaks from staring at screens
  • drink plenty of water
  • get sufficient good-quality sleep

Tear duct plugs are an option if tears drain too quickly from the eyes. These special plugs help keep fluid in the eyes for longer.

In some people, the lower eyelid is too loose, and tears drain too quickly from the eye. In this case, the doctor may suggest surgery.

Learn more about eyelid surgery here.

Dry eyes can worsen over time, so people should contact a doctor if they experience dry eye or blepharitis symptoms. It is important to get a proper diagnosis and take medication if necessary.

Blepharitis occurs when there is inflammation of the eyelid due to bacteria or clogged oil glands. This causes crusting and flaking, which can lead to dry eyes.

Dry eyes may also occur independently due to poor tear quality or low production. Sometimes, the eyes may be more watery than usual but still considered dry.

Treatment for blepharitis involves cleaning the eyes every day. Eye drops, tear duct plugs, and surgery are common treatments for dry eyes.