The purpose of this study was to investigate clinical and immunological responses to Demodex on the ocular surface. Thirteen eyes in 10 patients with Demodex blepharitis and chronic ocular surface disorders were included in this study and treated by lid scrubbing with tea tree oil for the eradication of Demodex. We evaluated ocular surface manifestations and Demodex counts, and analyzed IL-1β, IL-5, IL-7, IL-12, IL-13, IL-17, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor, and macrophage inflammatory protein-1β in tear samples before and after the treatment. All patients exhibited ocular surface manifestations including corneal nodular opacity, peripheral corneal vascularization, refractory corneal erosion and infiltration, or chronic conjunctival inflammatory signs before treatment. After treatment, Demodex was nearly eradicated, tear concentrations of IL-1β and IL-17 were significantly reduced and substantial clinical improvement was observed in all patients. In conclusion, we believe that Demodex plays an aggravating role in inflammatory ocular surface disorders.
Keywords: Blepharitis; Demodex; Immune Response; Ocular Surface; Tear Cytokine.