With all the symptoms of fibromyalgia like chronic fatigue, pain, and mental fog, you might not think about your eyes. But the reality is that a lot of people with fibromyalgia also struggle with conditions that affect their eyes. Conditions like blepharitis are actually very common among fibromyalgia sufferers.
These kinds of conditions can be very uncomfortable as they lead to painfully irritated eyes and over time they can even damage the eyes themselves. That’s why it’s important to take care of them when the symptoms first appear. But what exactly is blepharitis? How is it related to fibromyalgia? And what can you do to treat it?
What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a condition that leads to inflammation of the tissue around the eyes. As the tissue becomes inflamed it leads to dryness and irritation. The eyelids become red and swollen, often painfully so. And dry, crusty residue might accumulate at the corners of your eyes.
As the condition continues, you might experience painful stinging in the eyes or the sensation of having something in your eye.
The most common cause is an infection. Gradually, bacteria builds up under the surface of the eyelid, creating a biofilm. As this biofilm grows, it provides a source of food for a species of tiny mite. These mites begin feeding and cause inflammation and irritation of the eyes.
But certain immune conditions like psoriasis and Sjogren’s syndrome also seem to be related. That might be because the irregularity in the immune system caused by these conditions makes it harder for your body to naturally fight off the sources of inflammation from blepharitis. And that’s where the relation to fibromyalgia comes in.
How is it Related to Fibromyalgia?
We know that people with fibromyalgia also seem to be at a higher risk of autoimmune conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes similar symptoms to blepharitis like dry, irritated eyes.
And we know that this condition is more common among people with other autoimmune conditions like psoriasis. That’s significant because people with fibromyalgia are at a higher risk of developing autoimmune conditions such as these. Some have speculated that this link suggests that fibromyalgia itself is an autoimmune condition, which would account for a lot of fibromyalgia symptoms. But research evidence has shown that this is probably not the case.
All the same, there’s still a clear link between fibromyalgia and autoimmune conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome. Sjogren’s syndrome is a condition that gradually destroys the moisture producing cells in the eyes. As a result, the eyes dry out, which contributes to blepharitis. And that means that if you have fibromyalgia, there’s a chance you’ll also suffer from it.
How can you treat it?
If you’re suffering from any chronic pain in your eyes, it’s important to see an eye doctor as soon as possible. And there are a few things they will likely recommend if you have it. To begin with, doctors often prescribe an eyelid scrub. These are medicated wipes that you can use to scrub away the biofilm that provides food for the mites that cause blepharitis.
And if that’s not enough to relieve your symptoms, you can also have something called an electromechanical lid margin debridement. Essentially, this is a procedure where the doctor uses a special tool to remove the bacteria and mites from your eyelid.
Finally, your doctor might also prescribe medicated drops to both kill the bacteria and keep the biofilm from building up again in your eye.
But maintaining proper eyelid hygiene is important when it comes to managing the condition, even once your symptoms have improved. The meibomian glands in your eyes play an important role in keeping your eyelashes healthy, but they can become blocked up and excrete excess oil, which is the cause of that gooey build up at the base of your lashes. And this excess oil can provide a great environment for bacteria to thrive in.
Use a warm cloth to alleviate this blockage and keep your eyes healthy. In addition, you should make sure to clean your eyes regularly. Use a cotton swap with medicated eye drops a few times a day while you’re struggling with symptoms. Run the swab over your lids and in the margins of your eyes. This will help keep bacteria from building up in your eyes and thus prevent the mite infestations that cause the condition.
So let us know, do you suffer from blepharitis? Do you think it’s related to your fibromyalgia? What helps with your symptoms? What doesn’t? Tell us in the comments section.