In part one of a two part series, Dr. Schachter discusses the prevalence of blepharitis and the opportunity this presents for eyecare providers.
Blepharitis, or eyelid inflammation, is a very common, chronic condition that presents in our practices every day. In the US, blepharitis affects approximately 80 million patients each year. In a study done in my practice, we found around 25 of 100 consecutive patients had blepharitis.
In my experience, many ODs overlook this condition unless patients are overtly symptomatic. I was one of these ODs in the past. The surge in interest and research in ocular surface disease changed my attitude and approach.According to studies, the most likely cause of blepharitis is Demodex, commonly referred to as eyelash mites. Demodex mites can cause ocular inflammation and exacerbate many pre-existing ocular surface conditions such as Dry Eye and pterygium. The elderly are much more likely to carry the mites.
Since clear vision depends on a healthy ocular surface, and our practice culture centers around optimizing the ocular surface, the decision to treat or not became an easy one for me. I want my patients to look, feel, and see the best they possibly can. If I see a chronic disease that can be treated, then I do so. Blepharitis has many untoward effects, with conjunctival infection being the most common. Other effects include lid redness, allergy, increased incidence of chalazion, and more. Luckily, there are now viable, effective treatment options available. I use many therapeutic approaches in my practice to treat both the inflammation and to eradicate the mites. Cliradex® moist towelettes with 4- terpineol for my patients’ home treatment have become my go to therapy for Demodex. I will discuss this in my next blog.
The high degree of prevalence of blepharitis represents an opportunity for eye care providers. Vision plans are asking for more and paying less, and this isn’t getting any better. By diagnosing, treating and managing blepharitis, not only are you providing a higher level of care, you are becoming less dependent on vision plans. Some ODs are so dependent on them they are practically vision plan employees. Diversifying your revenue source can provide you more freedom from a single payer.
In my next blog I will discuss blepharitis – signs and symptoms, treatments and practice management.
For more information download the Achieve Optimal Ocular Hygiene with Cliradex® for the Eyelids, Lash and the Face infographic.