Thursday, June 29, 2006

New Treatment for Blepharitis

Blepharitis, inflammation of the anterior or posterior eyelid margin, has been shown to be associated with bacterial overgrowth on the lids.

For anterior blepharitis, lid hygiene with baby shampoo has been standard practice, but has been disappointing in managing this condition. Baby shampoo is not antibacterial and with regular use can dry the skin.

For posterior blepharitis (meibomitis), treatment with hot compresses to the lids and, in more severe cases, systemic tetracylines are commonly used. More recently, TheraTears Nutrition (omega-3 supplement with flaxseed and fish oil) has proven useful in mild to moderate cases and, in severe cases, it has proven useful in conjunction with a short course of a low dose tetracycline (i.e. 50 mg of minocycline for 1 month). TheraTears Nutrition decreases the inflammation of posterior blepharitis, while tetracyclines decrease inflammation and decrease the associated bacterial overgrowth.

Tetracycline treatment in women is now recommended to be low dose and short term, in cases where no alternative is available, given that long-term use may be associated with increased risk for breast cancer. To read more about this possible association click HERE. There is no known association between cancer and antibiotic use in men.

Now a new treatment, presented last week at the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society promises to be helpful in the treatment of all blepharitis patients. SteriLid, a new foam eyelid cleanser containing a natural plant oil called linalool, was shown to be bactericidal for the gram positive and gram negative bacteria commonly found on the lid margin is patients with blepharitis. SteriLid is available without a prescription.