Unsettling fact of the day: Almost every person alive today has tiny bugs, called Demodex mites, living inside the pores of their face, especially in and around the eyelashes. Most of the time these little eyelash mites won’t bother you, and you won’t even know they’re there. However, when something goes wrong, they can begin to cause problems, including with your eyes and vision.
Read on to learn what these microscopic mites are, and how they can affect your eyes.
What are Demodex Mites?
Demodex mites are tiny bugs that live inside hair follicles. Because they feed on dead skin cells and oil from your skin, they usually live around greasier areas of the body, like the eyes and nose.
An overgrowth of these eyelash mites is called “demodicosis.” Symptoms of demodicosis are often worse in the morning, since the mites are active at night, coming out to mate and then returning to the hair follicles in the morning. A Demodex infestation can also exacerbate pre-existing skin conditions like rosacea and acne.
How Can Demodex Mites Affect Your Eyes?
Common symptoms you may experience if you have demodicosis include:
- Itchy or stinging eyes, especially in the morning
- Yellowish discharge on your eyelashes, mainly in the morning
- Eyes that are constantly red and irritated
- Blurry or double vision
- Eye infections, such as pink eye
- Eyelashes falling out
- Inflamed eyelids
- Watery or crusty eyes
In cases where the demodex infestation is especially bad, swelling of the eyelids, known as blepharitis, may occur. Without proper treatment, this can irritate the cornea, leading to corneal swelling and eventually blindness.
Risk Factors For Demodex (Eyelash Mite) Infestation
Leading factors for an increased risk of a demodex infestation include:
- Not removing makeup at the end of the day
- Poor hygiene
- Oily skin
- A weakened immune system from illness or medication
- Inflammatory acne
- Skin rash
How Your Belmont Dry Eye Optometrist Can Help With Demodex Mites
Because demodex mites are so tiny, they can’t be seen by the naked eye. That’s why it’s important to come visit your local Belmont eye care clinic if you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms such as dry, itchy, red, gritty-feeling, or watery eyes. We will be able to tell if your symptoms are due to an infestation as part of a routine eye exam.
If we find that you have an infestation of mites in your eyelashes, we can prescribe a medicated ointment that can prevent the mites from reproducing. In particularly bad cases of infestation, we may be able to give you an oral medication as well.
We also have in-office technology to manually clean the margins of your eyelids. This will help minimize the demodex load on the eyelashes.
Want to know more about demodex infestations and how we can help treat them? Come visit our Belmont eye care office, or give us a call at 704-825-9002 today!