What is Blepharitis?

Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelid. Both humans and animals can develop this swelling, and in animals, it usually presents with spasms of the eyelid, hair loss near the eyes and red, swollen eyes.
There are many different causes of blepharitis. It is usually associated with conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye” or “red eye.” In conjunctivitis, the conjunctivae, or white parts of the eyes, become inflamed. This condition is very contagious.
There are several different types of blepharitis, including parasitic, solar and allergic. Parasitic blepharitis is seen quite commonly in dogs with mange. Hair loss usually accompanies this type, and a veterinarian can diagnose the condition with a skin sample.
Solar blepharitis can occur in animals without melanin in their eyelids. Melanin is a pigment that adds color to the skin. Those without color, or with very little color, in their skin are said to have albinism. Skin without a normal level of melanin is extremely sensitive to sunlight and is susceptible to inflammation.
Allergic blepharitis may be drug-related, as most allergies in animals tend to show symptoms on the skin. A veterinarian should be notified if it is possible that the inflammation is related to an allergy so that the medicine or other allergen can be avoided. If chronic inflammation is occurring, the vet may want to check for hypothyroidism, a disease of the endocrine system.
Symptoms of blepharitis usually include swollen and crusty eyelids and red, irritated eyes. The eyes may feel “gritty” as well, and eye discharge is also likely to occur. The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic cream. Goats with entropion, a genetic condition in which the eyelids are reversed and scrape the eye, are often susceptible to inflammation. A veterinarian may prescribe washing the goat’s eyes with a sodium sulphacetamid solution a few times daily.

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