You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. If your doctor suspects you may have an eyelid problem, such as blepharitis, you may be referred to an eye specialist (optometrist or ophthalmologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance, such as remove your contact lenses.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For blepharitis, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for these symptoms?
- Are there general medical disorders that can cause this problem?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- Is this condition usually temporary or long lasting? After treatment, will it come back again?
- Is my blepharitis contagious?
- Should I see a specialist?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?
- Can I continue to wear contact lenses?
- Do I need to take special care cleaning my contact lenses and my carrying case?
- Will I need a follow-up visit? If so, when?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may allow more time to cover points you want to address. Your doctor may ask:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
- Do your symptoms occur at a particular time of day?
- Have you been wearing contact lenses?
- Have you changed cosmetic brands recently?
- Have you changed soap or shampoo brands recently?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, appears to worsen your symptoms?
- Has anyone close to you had a recent eye infection?
- Have you had any eye diseases, eye surgeries or eye injuries in the past?
- Do you have other diseases or conditions?
- What medications are you taking?
What you can do in the meantime
As you wait for your appointment, you may find some relief from eye irritation by gently washing your eyelids a few times each day. To wash your eyelids:
- Apply a warm washcloth to your closed eyelids for five minutes.
- Gently rub your closed eyelids with a diluted solution of baby shampoo. Use a clean washcloth or clean fingers.
- Rinse your eyes thoroughly with warm water.
Avoid anything that irritates your eyes, such as eye makeup and contact lenses.
Mar. 27, 2012
- Preferred Practice Patterns Guidelines. Blepharitis — Limited Revision. San Francisco, Ca.: American Academy of Ophthalmology; 2011. http://one.aao.org/ce/practiceguidelines/ppp_content.aspx?cid=500cd9ca-173c-4c31-b6ea-a258e3549474. Accessed Dec. 23, 2011.
- Shtein RM. Blepharitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 23, 2011.
- Bernardes TF, et al. Blepharitis. Seminars in Ophthalmology. 2010;25:79.
- Facts about blepharitis. National Eye Institute. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/blepharitis/blepharitis.asp. Accessed Dec. 23, 2011.
- Blepharitis. American Optometric Association. http://www.aoa.org/x4718.xml. Accessed Dec. 23, 2011.
- Robertson DM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., Dec. 31, 2011.