Search for the Magic Bullet

One of the most common ocular complaints I hear from my patients is of ocular irritation and burning. Quite frequently, blepharitis is the cause of these symptoms, and often this condition has been undiagnosed or under-treated. I have recently come across a new product called Avenova that seems to be an extremely effective and well tolerated treatment for these conditions.

Blepharitis is one of the most common conditions prompting a visit to an ophthalmologist’s or optometrist’s office, and it is estimated to affect up to 23 million people in our country and be present in up to 30% of the patients seen by eye care practitioners. As a Cornea and External Disease specialist, I am constantly referred patients with longstanding and severe dry eye disease, blepharitis, and ocular surface disease.

Blepharitis is an inflammatory disease of the eyelids, and associated with redness, itching, burning, tearing, and crusting of the lids. The eyelids may be sensitive to the touch. It may be caused by the bacteria living on our skin, underlying skin conditions like seborrhea and rosacea, and dysfunction of the meibomian oil glands of the eyelid. In many patients, any combination of these three factors may coexist and contribute to blepharitis.

Blepharitis is often undiagnosed and untreated. Since some of the symptoms of blepharitis such as dryness, irritation, and tearing, are similar to dry eye syndrome, patients are often mistakenly treated with artificial tears and lubricants, which won’t treat the underlying causes of blepharitis. A thorough examination of the eyelids and lashes is critical for arriving at the correct diagnosis and treatment plan for blepharitis. In addition, it is a well-known phenomenon that blepharitis can exacerbate dry eye syndrome.

For decades, the traditional approach to treating blepharitis has been warm compresses, and lid scrubs with dilute baby shampoo. This regimen is frequently not effective and at times the baby shampoo can be irritating to the eyelid skin and ocular surface and actually make patients feel worse.

I have developed a new approach to blepharitis treatment utilizing Avenova, a commercially available solution that is quick and easy to use. Avenova utilizes Neutrox, a pure 0.01% concentration of hypochlorous acid in saline. While acid on your eyes may sound frightening, the Neutrox acid is completely safe, and is the same bacteria-killing component found in the white blood cells in our own immune system. When the body’s own defenses are overwhelmed and the eye lid infection and irritation persist, the scientifically engineered formulation found in Avenova is an effective solution to cleanse, remove, and protect against the bacteria that are often a major cause of the symptoms of blepharitis.

Packaged in a glass bottle with a spray top and dispensed onto a cotton pad or cotton ball, the solution actually cleans the lashes and eyelid skin. It is non-toxic to human tissues and non-irritating. Avenova may be used twice a day, in the morning and at bedtime. Baby shampoo lid scrubs involve preparation of a dilute solution of baby shampoo, and the skillful use of a Q-tip or cotton applicator near the eye. Other commercially available eyelid scrub pads are conveniently packaged and ready to use, but their therapeutic solutions can be irritating to the eyelid and ocular surface.

I have recently treated a 65 year old retired physician who was referred to me after failing two years of treatment for dry eye syndrome and blepharitis. His constant and chronic complaints of dry eye, irritation, burning, pain from bright lights, and blurry vision had significantly curtailed his professional and personal life. He had been tried on a variety of regimens, including topical artificial tears, antibiotics, steroids, and cyclosporine A drops, along with antibiotic and steroid ointments, oral doxycycline pills, tea tree oil ointment, warm compresses and lid scrubs with baby shampoo and commercially available lid scrub pads. I started the patient on Avenova lid scrubs once a day, along with warm compresses, oral doxycycline, and artificial tears. Within one month there was dramatic improvement in the patient’s eyelid condition and symptoms. His eyes actually felt comfortable and “refreshed.” He has made a dramatic turnaround in his life and is now much more socially active, participating again in outdoor sports, and returned to his favorite pastime of reading.

There is no magic bullet for blepharitis and there is no one therapy that works on every patient every time. However, I am very pleased and enthusiastic about Avenova with its Neutrox system in treating the eyelids and improving the nagging symptoms of blepharitis in a reliable and comfortable fashion, in a majority of patients.