Harvard Men's Health Watch

On call: Eyelid inflammation

On call

Eyelid inflammation

Q. I don't have allergies, but my eyes often burn and itch. My vision is fine, but my eyes are sometimes bloodshot, and I come down with two or three sties a year. I don't want to bother my doctor with such a minor problem, but I wonder if you can help.

A. It can be hazardous to hazard a diagnosis without seeing the patient. That said, your symptoms suggest your problem is blepharitis. But don't panic — the name is worse than the illness. Bleph comes from the Greek word for eyelid, and itis simply indicates inflammation.

Why should your eyelids become inflamed? In most cases, the glands that produce lubricating oils become clogged. As a result, the edges of the lids become thickened and reddened and small flecks of debris accumulate on the eyelashes. Lacking oil, the tears evaporate too fast, so the eye itself feels dry and irritated.

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