Itchy eyes indi cate several eye abnormalities. It could be a refractive error (myopia/nearsightedness or astigmatism) or an eye disease (dry eye disease, blepharitis/inflammation of the eyelids or conjunctivitis/ pink eyes). But what most of you should be aware of is that we humans have permanent ectoparasites that live inside the eyelash and deeper sebaceous glands. They are called Demodex. D e m o d e x folliculorum and Demodex Brevis are two mites that infest the human eye. Patients may complain of itching, burning, foreign body sensation, crusting or matted lashes, tearing, blurry vision, ocular discomfort or irritation, and crossover symptoms to a myriad of other conditions.
Patients also may observe signs include cylindrical dandruff and eyelash disorders such as trichiasis (turning inward of the lash), distichiasis (double row of the eyelash), madarosis (absence or loss of eyelashes), and erythema (reddening) of the eyelid margin. Research says that mite density increases with age (100% of the general population over 70 years of age has been shown to have Demodex mites). There are also cases of failure to remove eyelash extensions causing and attracting Demodex mites to flourish. Due to significant overlap with other anterior eye conditions, Demodex infestation remains underdiagnosed and undertreated. But they also act as lash cleaners by grazing on bacteria, defending against other mite species, and as immune regulators and buffers. Demodex is treatable. According to studies, the primary goal of treating Demodex is only to reduce the number of mites as the entire mite population cannot be eliminated. There are several effective treatment options for patients with Demodex, and selection is based on the severity of the condition. When your eyes are itchy, there could be an underlying cause, therefore a comprehensive eye exam (CEE) is highly recommended!