Demodex Blepharitis sounds kind of scary and may invoke thoughts of the television show Monsters Inside Me. Demodex is an eight-legged parasitic mite that lives on our skin’s hair follicles particularly the eyelash follicles. It is estimated to be form 85% nearly 100% of us have or have had demodex infestations. They typically live 2 to 3 weeks. The mites can move 10 mm/h and are usually more active during the night. Our optometrist in Broken Arrow checks the eyelash line and lids for the signs of these mites. Demodex is one of the often overlooked conditions in the eye.
Patients with demodicosis may have eye irritation, itching and scaling of eyelids and/or eyebrows, lid thickening, loss of lashes, conjunctival inflammation along with decreased vision. Burning sensation as well as a foreign body sensation are less common symptoms of this condition. Demodex folliculorum is usually found in the lash follicle, and Demodex brevis burrows deep in meibomian glands for sebum, their main food source.
If there are obvious signs or suggestive symptoms, our eye doctor will suggest a course of treatment. Normal treatments may not be as effective for your inflamed, red eyelids if the root cause is demodex. Tea tree oil treatments are the treatment of choice for getting rid of of the mites. There are a number of commercially available foams, shampoos and eyelid wipes with diluted tea tree oil.
Demodex blepharitis can cause styes (hordeolum), meibomian gland dysfunction, dry eye syndrome and keratoconjunctivitis. They have also been noted in skin conditions such as rosacea. Their debris or wastes may cause inflammatory responses or instigate an innate immune response causing swelling of the eyelids. A persistent infestation of the lash follicles can make the lash turn inward where the lashes are scratching the conjunctiva and cornea.
Because Demodex is easily overlooked by eye care professionals, and they are resistant to most conventional medications, thus the ocular inflammation caused by Demodex infestation is difficult to eradicate.
Dr. Matthew Ozment
Optometrist, Broken Arrow OK