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    Tea tree oil proposed for blepharitis

    Though there is scant research to guide treatment, tea tree oil shampoo might successfully improve some cases of blepharitis, according to two physicians at the Eye Unit, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, United Kingdom.

    Tea tree oil acts against bacteria, fungus, mites, and inflammation, all of which may be involved in some forms of blepharitis, they said in an editorial for the journal Eye.

    The editorialists wrote that blepharitis is “likely to be the most under-diagnosed, undertreated, and underappreciated eye disease worldwide.”

    Though its aetiology is poorly understood, clinicians have traditionally blamed anterior blepharitis on local microbial colonisation or seborrhoea, while blaming posterior blepharitis on meibomian gland dysfunction.

    More from this author: How myopia shaped the attitudes of Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan

    Despite recent work by the International Workshop on Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, the poor understanding of the causes of the condition has inhibited progress in treatments, the editorialists wrote.

    However, the writers say some progress is being made, citing a study in the same issue of Eye that found both fungus and Demodex mites were more common in people with blepharitis than in people who did not have the condition.

    In that study, researchers from Mevlana University School of Medicine, Konya, Turkey, tested the eyelashes of 19 patients with chronic anterior blepharitis “of seborrheic or mixed seborrhetic/staphylococcal type” and 11 healthy age- and sex-matched controls for fungus. They used periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining in addition to fungal cultures and direct microscopy.

    The PAS staining revealed fungal elements in 15 patients (79%) of the blepharitis group and 2 (18%) of the control group, a statistically significant difference (P= 0.002).

    Previously, researchers have searched for fungus in blepharitis using fungal cultures, but this method has a high false negative rate, the researchers reported.

    Through cultures, the researchers isolated Penicillium or Candida species, or Tricophyton verrucosum in four patients with blepharitis, but in none of the control subjects.


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