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Q: Several days ago, I woke up with a weird, gluey feeling in my eyes. It went away after I showered, but then the symptoms returned later that day. Now my eyes feel tired constantly, and I'm noticing little crusty flakes in my eyelashes. It feels and looks gross. Help!

Dr. Donnica:
The symptoms you've described sound like blepharitis, which is a common inflammatory malady of the eyelids that interferes with tear-producing glands and irritates surrounding skin. There are three types: allergic, inflammatory and infectious. The allergic type is most common and often caused by allergies to eye drops, makeup or even fingernail products (since women touch their eyes frequently), so if you've started using a new makeup brand lately, stop! Discontinue all make-up or eye drops until this is resolved, then switch back to products you previously used without problems. Avoid other potential irritants such as cigarette smoke and practice good, daily eyelid hygiene. Skin scales and debris can collect bacteria that naturally reside in lids and can exacerbate problems. Try this cleansing routine two to four times daily. First, apply a warm compress to your eyes for 10 minutes to ease inflammation. Next, wash eyelids gently with a washcloth or cotton ball dipped in a solution of 3 drops baby shampoo and one ounce of warm water. Finally, use a Q-tip to loosen any stubborn crust or particles. If symptoms persist after five days, or if any pain, severe swelling or graininess develops, consult an eye doctor.

Created: 12/29/2005  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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