A similar concept of exfoliating the skin has now moved to the eyelids to treat an irritating eye condition. There is relief for people who suffer from blepharitis and the itchy, gritty, dry and crusty eyes they have endured.
The past two years have been seen through a sometimes painful, oftentimes aggravated view for Marge Coltrin. "My eyes were hurting, my eyelids were swollen," she said, "I felt like there were rocks or sand in my eyes."
Coltrin ditched her eye make-up and used drops to ease the irritation, but that still did not get to the root of the problem. "I was being treated for dry eye syndrome and using drops over the counter," she said, "I would have periods where they would really water all the time and really get in my way, but after a while they seemed to settle down."
When Coltrin and her husband booked a Mediterranean cruise this summer, she knew she had to get her eye problems under control to enjoy the sights of the trip. That is when she met with ophthalmologist Charlie Thompson at The Eye Clinic in Lake Charles, who diagnosed her with a condition called blepharitis. "People get itching, burning, redness, tearing or watering and it's just a vicious cycle until you can break it," said Dr. Thompson.
The culprit: a build-up of crust and bacterial debris at the base of eyelashes. "It's normal skin flora," said Dr. Thompson, "it's a normal bacteria that lives on our skin and our eyelids that kind of grows in excess to the point where people's natural immune system cannot keep the amount of bacteria under control."
BlephEx is the newest blepharitis treatment, using a soft sponge tip dipped in medication, then attached to a handheld spinning device and moved across the eyelid to clean out the debris, even tiny parasites. "You have the tip soaked already," said Dr. Thompson, "and you go along the lashes and treat individually just on the base of the lashes as you move across the lid."
The process takes about seven minutes for each eye and Coltrin says it actually felt good. "He kept asking me, 'is it hurting,' and I just kept saying, 'no, it's absolutely wonderful!'"
Wonderful is also the word Coltrin is using to describe her Mediterranean cruise with clear, pain free eyes. "My eyes were perfect," she said, "I had no problems. I didn't miss a beat and it was just wonderful. It just saved my whole trip."
BlephEx is not a permanent solution, but the results last for several months. Patients continue to occasionally use eye drops and lid wipes to keep the eyes clean.
To learn more about blepharitis and other eye conditions, mark your calendar for Friday, September 19. Dr. Thompson is hosting a breakfast seminar at The Eye Clinic and you can reserve your seat by calling 337-478-3810.