Do you have red, watery, dry, crusty eyes? Then it’s possible you may have Dry Eye / Blepharitis Syndrome.


Millions over the age of 40 suffer from dry eyes, and the rates are even higher in Colorado because of our dry, high altitude environment. Dry eyes not only cause pain and compensatory excessive tearing, but they also cause vision problems and higher infection risk. Artificial tears, gels, and ointments have been the mainstay of treatment, but they can be difficult to apply and don’t treat the root problems.


Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids caused by bacterial and oil flake build up at the base of the eyelashes. Dry Eye/Blepharitis Syndrome (DEBS) occurs from excessive eyelid bacterial toxins that negatively impact the quality and quantity of tears. A vicious cycle of biofilm build up causes decreased tears resulting in less beneficial cleansing and moisturizing effects to the eye. There are two major types of Blepharitis: 1) anterior (the front edge of the eyelid where the eyelashes attach; and 2) posterior blepharitis (the inner edge of the eyelid margin against the eye).

Blepharitis is painful, chronic, and can worsen over time. Symptoms include itchy, red and swollen eyelids, light sensitivity, watery eyes, burning sensation, flaky or scaly skin, and eyelid crusting and discharge. A 2009 study showed its presence in up to 47% of patients. Sadly, blepharitis patients also have a higher risk of anxiety and depression. DEBS patients can also suffer painful corneal ulcers that can cause scarring and vision problems.


In addition to the bacteria, many patients acquire Demodex (a mite) infestations of their eyelashes and lid margin, further contributing to their discomfort. Traditionally, this mite infestation has been very difficult to treat, requiring specialized lid scrubs and removal by an
eye doctor that could take months to improve but not necessarily eradicate.


While there is no permanent cure for blepharitis and dry eyes, treatments that provide mild to moderate help include warm compresses, antibiotics, eye drops, and specialized lid scrubs. These daily treatments, however, can be expensive, time-consuming, difficult to perform, and often provide only limited success. Fortunately, there is a new treatment option available, BlephEx, that uses a patented rotary hand piece by an eye professional, with a medical grade micro-sponge to carefully and precisely spin along the edge of the eyelids and lashes. This exfoliates the eyelids and completely removes the troublesome bacterial debris and Demodex mites that other treatments could not.

BlephEx treats both anterior and posterior blepharitis by painlessly removing the root causes of the inflammation, thus helping the eyes feel better. Check out a live demonstration by Dr. Burroughs of the BlephEx treatment at YouTube:

Those with long-standing and very severe DEBS may require a few closely spaced treatments (e.g., OCuSoft Hypochlor). BlephEx is also helpful for contact lens wearers as they are ten times more likely to suffer inflammatory damage to their tear glands. Contact lens intolerance can also be avoided by having a BlephEx procedure done every six months.


While BlephEx does not cure DEBS, it ensures the effects are minimized through regular treatments. Though BlephEx treatments are not covered by insurance, they are reasonably priced and can reduce, if not eliminate, the expensive need for drops, antibiotics, and more laborious lid hygiene regimens. Just as a thorough semi-annual professional dental cleaning is essential for oral health, BlephEx is becoming an essential cleaning for patients suffering from DEBS.

About the author

Dr. John R. Burroughs, an oculofacial plastic surgeon, is a board-certified ophthalmologist
Dr. John R. Burroughs
Ophthalmologist at 719-473-8801

Dr. John R. Burroughs, an oculofacial plastic surgeon, is a board-certified ophthalmologist that is fellowship trained in cosmetic and reconstructive eyelid and facial plastic surgery. He has been nationally selected to Best Doctors numerous times, published over a hundred articles and textbook chapters, presents at national symposia, and has served as a professor of surgery.

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