What is Demodex?
Demodex are tiny mites that live in your eyelash follicles and the glands of your eyelids. They are microscopic, so you can't see them with the naked eye.
Demodex mites are nocturnal, coming out at night to eat, mate, lay their eggs and expel their waste products on your eyelids, eyelashes, and in the glands of your eyelids known as Meibomian glands. This, combined with the debris of their bodies once they die, can cause significant inflammatory and mechanical damage. Demodex have a 2-3 week life cycle.
It is not necessarily a problem for you to have an occasional Demodex mite on your skin or in your eyelash follicles; in small numbers Demodex mites are benign and do not cause any harm. Demodex mites become unhealthy and problematic when they are present in large quantities known as an "infestation".
It is not uncommon for a person to have a demodex infestation and to be completely symptom free, and therefore unaware of it.
Alternatively, a person with demodex may have any of the following symptoms:
- Dry Eyes
- Flakes, or "Dandruff" in your eyelashes
- Burning, or stinging
- Discomfort, or irritation
- Itchy eyes or eyelids
- Grittiness, or the feeling of having a foreign body in your eye(s)
- Fluctuating, or intermittently blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
- Redness of eyes or eyelids
- Brittle, easily broken eyelashes
- Loss of eyelashes and/or eyebrows (via destruction of the hair follicles)
- Misdirected eyelashes (trichiasis)
- Infections of your eyes, or eyelids
In addition, demodex can cause, or exacerbate, conditions such as dry eye, styes, chalazia, blepharitis, Meibomian gland dysfunction, ocular rosacea and rosacea of your face.
An infestation of demodex mites can cause irreparable damage to your eyelashes, eyelids and meibomian glands; this is why diagnosing and properly treating this condition early on is so important.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, have any of the above medical conditions, or simply would like to be checked for demodex mites, please contact us today to schedule an appointment.
Below is a video of a Demodex mite walking along an eyelash. This video was taken through a microscope.