When we examined the patient, we found a severe infestation of demodex mites which was likely responsible for his symptoms.
What is demodex?
Demodex is an eight-legged mite that lives in hair folicles and sebaceous glands. Some species of demodex are known to commonly infect humans. You can catch demodex through contact with the mite or from or dust containing eggs.
A patient came to our clinic complaining of chronic dry eye that began in last year. His discomfort was severe, he was unable to read or work efficiently and he had been to as many as four doctors to try and find a solution to the problem. He received no satisfactory answers and his spouse was beginning to think that he was “making excuses” and that this was all in his head.
Demodex and dry, irritated eyes
The two types of Demodex that infect humans are D. brevis and D. folliculorum. D. brevis is about 0.2 mm long and tends to live inside the eye lash’s sebaceous glands and in meibomian glands. Meibomian glands are critical for proper tear production and when these glands don’t work properly, dry eye disease often results. That’s why D. brevis can be associated with meibomian gland disease and deficient tear quality.
D. folliculorum buries itself face down near the root of the eyelash and it is associated with anterior blepharitis, which is inflamed, irritated and itchy eyelids.
Treatment options for demodex infestation
There are a number of options for treating demodex infestation. One of the most effective treatments that we use in our Vancouver optometry clinic involves a series of in-office procedures involving the use of anesthetic, tea tree oil, antibiotics and topical steroids. We have foud that BlephEx can provide substantial relief for many patients.
Are my family members at risk?
We commonly observe that if one family member has an infestation of demodex, other family members may also be infected due to close contact. It is a good idea to make appointments for family members if you are diagnosed with a demodex infection.