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Blepharitis- Red eyes and crusty lids explained

Chronic red eyes and crusty lids are commonly due to inflammation from chronic bacterial overgrowth and/or from demodex mite infestations. Acute bacterial or viral infections (conjunctivitis or pink eye) are very different and require appropriate treatment, however the chronic red eyes which bother many patients are easily improved in most cases by good ocular hygiene.

Eyegiene“, as we like to call ocular hygiene, includes regular cleansing of lids with special foam “lid & lash shampoos” or pre-moistened pads, along with hydration/lubrication using gentle artificial tear drops.

Although we would prefer not to think about it, we are all covered with normal bacteria (our bacterial skin flora) and most of us have mites called demodex living at the base of our hair or eyelash follicles.

But don’t panic! These are normal and cause no harm unless either the bacterial flora or demodex get out of control. Then our lids, skin and eyes can get red and inflamed. That’s where our optometrists at Pierce Family Vision can help.

When you visit your optometrist, they will look at your eyes behind the biomicroscope to rule out any serious eye issues and then create a personalized “Eyegiene” routine for you to help keep your eyes as white and comfortable as possible.

Daily lid cleansing and gentle artificial tear use should be part of our daily routine, just like brushing and flossing teeth and regular washing. Good ocular hygiene can also prevent painful styes and chalazion of the lids as well.

Eyegiene…who knew? The optometrists at Pierce Family Vision, that’s who!


Written by Dr. Patti Ellison

Dr. Patti Ellison graduated from the University of Waterloo School of Optometry in 1988. She received the A.W. Cole prize for clinical proficiency. She practiced in Guelph until 1994 when she joined her husband, Dr. Bruce Pierce, here in Waterloo.

Dr. Ellison enjoys the wonderful diversity in her practice with patients of all ages and from all parts of the world. She especially enjoys examining children’s eyes. Children’s exams always start with a ride in the chair, pictures (if they aren’t quite ready for the letters) and the “magic” 3D glasses to check depth perception. We also have ingenious ways of examining babies and Dr. Ellison has cared for many children from their first exam at 6 months of age until they bring in children of their own.

Dr. Ellison also enjoys helping adults with any visual or eye health issues they have such as dry eyes, blepharitis (red, irritated eyes and eyelids), and specialty glasses for things like driving, reading sheet music, working on computers, or anything else task-specific.

Dr. Ellison and Dr. Pierce have 2 grown sons and live in Waterloo. Outside of the office, Dr. Ellison enjoys taking walking holidays in the UK and Ireland.

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