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Hi all, I am currently a medical student who has been suffering from blepharitis for over 2 years now. I wanted to take this opportunity to share my experience of the condition, and some of the things that I have personally found helpful in managing the symptoms.
I think a lot of the frustration surrounding patients suffering from blepharitis is due to the insufficiency of current medical practice in dealing with such chronic, incurable conditions. As many of you may already know, the current gold standard for managing blepharitis is utilising heat compress (for around 5-10 minutes), followed by lid hygiene techniques (warm water and baby shampoo to cleanse the eyelids are often recommended). In addition, doctors routinely prescribe topical eye drops in order to hydrate the ocular surface. In my experience, such steps, whilst contributory, are NOT sufficient to effectively control symptoms. My encounter with several independent ophthalmologists suggests that doctors often also do not recognise the severity of symptoms, and what a tremendous impact the condition may have on one's quality of life.
With these in mind, I wanted to share some of the techniques that I am currently using on a daily basis (I shall leave a link to all the relevant material at the end). I want to stress that these are all from my own experiences, and thus may not necessarily be translatable to everyone. Furthermore, I would like to clarify that I am not endorsed by any of the product manufacturers that I may mention.
[u]Heat compress and lid hygiene[/u]
Firstly, I do continue with the heat compress and lid hygiene technique twice daily. I believe this remains a critical step that must not be overlooked. I use a microwaveable compress termed ‘The Eye Doctor' for around 10 minutes, followed by massaging of the eyelids, with gentle strokes with the fingers in the direction of the eyelid margin. Following the advice from one of my ophthalmologists, I have ceased to use baby shampoo, and now use a solution specifically developed for blepharitis, called 'Blephasol'. I use this solution to clean the eyelid margin with cotton buds. It is imperative that you perform this on a daily basis.
With respect to eye drops, I have tried over 10 different brands, including more viscous formulations and liposomal sprays - most of which I have found to be grossly ineffective, with relief lasting for a matter of seconds. Recently, I came across the use of Manuka honey in eye drops. There has been some research in this area that has demonstrated that manuka honey may effectively reduce the overgrowth of ocular flora that is commonly associated with patients with chronic lid disease. After having used a particular eye drop called 'Optimel' for the last few months, I have noticed significant improvements. It has been designed to be an adjunctive therapy and is not a replacement for hydrating eye drops. For this, I have found 'Hycosan - Extra', to be the most beneficial.
It is common knowledge that exercise holds immense health benefits. For a patient that is suffering daily from pain, it may understandably not be a priority - at least, it was not for me. However, I found that regular exercise has been perhaps the factor that has made the strongest impact on my symptoms. Whilst I cannot explain the exact mechanisms for this, I believe that the importance of exercise is not stressed adequately in the context of blepharitis. I would implore you to take 30 minutes every day (or however often you can), to get involved with moderate-high intensity exercise. Even it does not directly influence the pathology of blepharitis per se, it will most definitely make a positive impact on both your physical and mental well-being - often factors that may be overlooked when one is concerned with one particular condition.
The oral administration of omega-3 is also currently recommended in current practice. Studies have shown that fairly high doses of omega-3 tablets (around 4x 1,000mg per day) may be effective in reducing symptoms. In real life, it is difficult to discern whether there are any benefits, due to the fact that patients typically utilise several management modalities, and it often takes 6 months of continuous effort to gain benefit from omega-3 supplementation. Currently, I take a product called 'Omega Eye' on the recommended dosage.
I have found that it is important to condition your body appropriately at all times. It is important that you remain hydrated, as this may have a direct influence on your eye symptoms. It would be advisable to be cautious of any additional agents such as caffeine, that may contribute to dehydration. Other factors, such as wind and air conditioning, are also known to further dehydrate the eyes and should be avoided if possible. Computer-use places a strain on the eyes, and increases the time interval between blinking - however, this is often difficult to reduce, particularly for students and those working alike. I have found that frequent blinking exercises, as well as making a conscious effort to take frequent breaks from the computer screen, may also be helpful.
Here is a list of all the products mentioned:
1. The Eye Doctor -
2. Blephasol -
3. Optimel -
4. Hycosan Extra -
5. Omega Eye -
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