The pathologic relevance of Demodex infestation in blepharitis is still controversial. The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of Demodex spp. in eyelash follicles and its relationship to eye symptoms.
Material and methods
A total of 290 individuals were studied for the presence of Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis within eyelash follicles. Participants belonged to one of four groups: inpatients, drug abusers, health professionals, and medical students. Ten eyelashes were epilated from each subject, placed on microscope slides and examined for parasites. The sample was defined as positive if at least one parasite or parasite's ova were present. The presence of parasites was analyzed according to age, gender, place of living, reported eye problems, and use of contact lenses or glasses.
The prevalence of Demodex spp. infestation among all studied subjects was 41%, with the highest infestation rate among inpatients (p < 0.01) and elderly people (p < 0.001). No difference regarding the presence of Demodex was found between women and men (p = 0.76). Demodex folliculorum was about 2.4 times more frequent than D. brevis. The prevalence of Demodex spp. in subjects with and without eye complaints suggesting blepharitis was similar (41.6% vs. 40.2%, respectively, p = 0.9). On the other hand, wearing glasses was linked to Demodex infestation (48.4% vs. 32.3%, p < 0.01).
Demodex is a common saprophyte found in human eyelash follicles. Its presence might be related to some ocular discomfort; however, in the vast majority of cases the infestation seems to be asymptomatic.