Some years ago, I visited a friend of mine who was working as an optometrist in a community private practice in the Caribbean. Although I didn’t examine any patients as I wasn’t licensed to work there but I remember him telling me that many of the patients he saw complained of burning eyes. Their eyes always looked quiet and healthy. The best he could come up with was blepharitis. The lid margins looked reasonable but when he advised lid hygiene and artificial tear drops for most patients the symptom of burning eyes disappeared.

Thinking back now it was probably seborrheic blepharitis. This is linked to a skin condition where the skin is oilier than normal. Yeast in this oil causes an inflammatory response in some people, which can affect the Meibomian glands while leaving very little redness at the lid margin. The oils necessary for a stable tear film don’t work efficiently and this leads to a short break-up time, which in turn can cause the eyes to have a burning sensation.

He advised his patients to apply mild warmth through a face cloth soaked in warm water for five minutes or better still a reusable heat bag that can be warmed in a microwave and placed over the eyes for five minutes.

He also recommended cleaning and rubbing with an eyelid wipe that is formulated for the treatment of blepharitis.

The artificial tear drops help reduce the discomfort especially if they are applied from the fridge.

Blepharitis is a common chronic condition which although rarely has serious eye complications can nevertheless have a large negative impact on quality of life through the way it makes the person feel. It can however be difficult to identify and as it’s chronic, treatment needs to continue for the long term. When treatment is stopped symptoms are very likely to return. It should always be taken seriously.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

If you like EyeTools Questions of the Day…

Children’s Eye Examinations
How to Run a Successful Low Vision Clinic
How to Run a Successful Optometry Practice



– Optometry students
– Pre-registration and novice optometrists
– Optometrists returning to work
– Junior eye doctors
– Dispensing opticians and orthoptists preparing for refraction exams
– Contact lens opticians, clinical assistants and eyecare educators

Improve your optometry skills with introductory & specialist instruction videos, topical live & recorded expert webinars, presentations and book reviews.

Start with the first section, ‘Pre-refraction procedures’ free, then choose a monthly or yearly subscription. To see English captions, click the CC button on any video.