To compare the efficacy of using an eyelash manipulation technique to the traditional eyelash epilation and subsequent microscopic examination technique, when investigating for the presence of Demodex folliculorum in a clinical setting.
Four hundred twenty-eight eyelashes of 107 subjects were chosen to compare the quantity of D. folliculorum visible on eyelash manipulation with the slitlamp biomicroscope to that counted on microscopic examination of the same epilated eyelash. One eyelash from each eyelid was rotated with sterile forceps in situ, and the number of D. folliculorum seen emerging from the follicle was counted. The same eyelash was then epilated, and the number of D. folliculorum on the epilated eyelash was counted. Data were analyzed to check for agreement between the two techniques.
Intraclass correlation coefficient showed moderately good agreement for assessing the quantity of D. folliculorum (0.78) between the techniques. However, the Bland–Altman plot suggested that consistently higher quantities were found on eyelash manipulation. The overall mean quantity of D. folliculorum was also greater on eyelash manipulation (1.45 mites; range, 0–13 mites) than on microscopic examination of the epilated eyelash (0.81 mites; range, 0–16; P= <0.001). Weighted kappa (κw=0.56) indicated weak levels of agreement between the two methods for addressing severity of infestation.
Eyelash manipulation exhibited larger quantities of D. folliculorum than complete epilation of the eyelash. In a clinical setting, complete eyelash epilation is not necessary to accurately detect Demodex blepharitis requiring treatment.