What is Demodex?
Demodex are tiny mites that live in your eyelashes and in 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 (the skin cells of your eyelids), mating, laying their eggs and expelling their waste products in your eyelash follicles and in the glands of your eyelids, known as Meibomian glands. This, combined with the debris of their bodies once they die, causes significant inflammatory and mechanical damage to your eyelashes and your Meibomian glands. 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 and in your hair 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, you may have any of the following symptoms:
- Dry Eyes
- "Dandruff" in your eyelashes
- Burning or stinging
- Discomfort or irritation of eyes, or eyelids
- 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, problems such as blepharitis, dry eye, styes, chalazia, Meibomian gland dysfunction, ocular rosacea and “regular” rosacea (of your face).
Demodex mites can cause irreparable damage to your eyelashes and meibomian glands, making it important to quickly diagnose and treat an infestation.
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.
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