Are Mites Eating Away Your Eyelids?

By Dr. Eric Drake

Often people over the age of 50 have been diagnosed with blepharitis, but most patients don’t know what’s actually causing it. Blepharitis is an inflammation of the eyelids that can cause red, irritated, itchy, swollen eyelids and the formation of dandruff-like scales on eyelashes. Chronic dry eye is also common. This eye problem is similar to skin conditions such as dandruff of the scalp and acne rosacea.

In recent years, there has been a new culprit added to the list of causes of blepharitis and rosacea that not many people would typically think of. It’s called Demodex. Demodex is actually a common mite found in the human skin. Just as we have bacteria that always resides on our skin, theses mites are similar. Typically, they don’t cause any problems or symptoms, but as we age these mites can over populate. Excess mites will cause symptoms and potential chronic problems down the road. Research has shown that 84% of the population over age 60 has an infestation.
The best way to understand what is causing the symptoms mentioned above is a comprehensive eye exam that focuses on the ocular surface and eyelids. An eye care professional will be able to diagnose what the cause is and make sure you get the right treatment.

Past treatments for Demodex has varied from using mild soaps and lid scrubs to prescribing antibiotic ointment, but the most effective treatments now are using IPL light therapy or tea tree oil. Research shows that both IPL and tree tea oil will eradicate Demodex and help relieve the irritation, itching and acne rosacea symptoms. Fortunately, there are companies who have formulated tea tree oil into easy to use wipes that are safe to use around the eyes. We have seen great success with both IPL and tree tea oil treatments. We look forward to helping those who are suffering from these little mites. Relief is in sight at SouthWest Vision!

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 435-673-5577 or go online at